The thing about student-athletes is that, just like every student, they need to pass their exams, submit term papers, and perform well on recitations. After all, you need to maintain a certain grade to be part of the varsity team. But have you ever wondered how they juggle their responsibilities like masters and become champions in multiple areas of life?

Visayas State University is the proud home of champions, representing the University in tournaments both at regional and national levels. Not only do they bring glory, they also bring excellence to the academic field. This #TatakViscan article will glimpse into the life of Viscan varsity players through the lenses of Lara Jetcah Tulin, a 3rd year BS in Chemistry student and table tennis player; and Ms. Hilda Pedrera, VSUIHS instructor and coach of the VSU Chess Varsity team.

Lara Jetcah Tulin: An Inspiring Youth Leader, Fostering Lifelong Bonds

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Lara Jetcah Tulin, a 3rd-year Viscan student majoring in BS Chemistry, wears many hats.  She currently serves as the president of the VSU Chemical Society, and SK Secretary of Brgy. Poblacion Zone 12's Sangguniang Kabataan, and committee member of the Philippine Association of Chemistry Students, Inc. (PACS, Inc.).  Additionally, she captains the VSU table tennis team. Her academic prowess extends beyond her leadership roles, as evidenced by her participation in the 2021 Hong Kong International Mathematical Olympiad Heat Round. When sharing her experiences juggling multiple responsibilities, Lara highlights that creating bonds and lasting relationships brings her the most joy.

 Ms. Hilda A. Pedrera: Guiding the Future Generations In More Ways Than One

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During her time as a BSEd Filipino student at VSU, Ms. Hilda A. Pedrera represented the university at the national level, earning a Varsity Letter Award.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude and served as President of the Kapisanan ng mga Filipino Majors (KAFIM).  Following her Master's degree at Cebu Normal University (CNU), she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the same institution. Combining her passion for education and chess, Ms. Pedrera now coaches the VSU Chess Varsity Team.  As a faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education (DTE), she teaches Professional Education subjects and Filipino language courses while also serving as an affiliate faculty member at Visayas State University Integrated High School (VSUIHS).  In her role as advisor for Grade 7 Section Lily and coach of the varsity team, Ms. Pedrera strives to instill the values of patience, humility, and camaraderie in her students.

It Starts With a Solid Foundation

Hilda A. Pedrera began learning chess at the tender age of three. By the third grade, she was already participating in formal competitions, winning her first gold. Her talent blossomed further in fifth grade, where she dominated the Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA) and secured her second gold medal. This early success stemmed from her father, a passionate chess player who instilled his love for the game in his children. He served as a significant influence and mentor in Ms. Pedrera's chess journey.

Lara's journey as a table tennis player began differently. It all started with a neighbor's invitation to train every Saturday. Although the group initially consisted of seven trainees, it eventually dwindled to just Lara. She officially launched her athletic career by representing her elementary school in the EVRAA. Like Ms. Pedrera, her love for the sport was nurtured by her father, a table tennis player who personally trained her.

   Life Catches Up, But Strength Lies Within

Balancing academic and athletic excellence can be demanding. Despite their impressive time management skills, both Lara and Ms. Pedrera considered leaving their respective sports. “Years of playing, seeing the same faces and fighting the same opponents led me to contemplate focusing solely on academics,” Ms. Pedrera recalled. Ms. Tulin echoed similar sentiments, stating, "Certain aspects of my environment made me want to quit,” she states. “But that all changed when I came to VSU.”

VSU's supportive environment ultimately reignited their passion. Ms. Pedrera, exposed to resources unavailable elsewhere, rediscovered her love for chess. Whereas before she fought to make her father proud, now chess has truly become hers, becoming a personal pursuit fueled by challenging opponents and inspiring mentors. 

“I played chess before because all I wanted was to make my Papa proud, but later, I realized how privileged I was that God had given me this talent. So, I grabbed every opportunity to showcase my talent and show people how beautiful and challenging chess was. I am forever grateful to all of those people who guided me and believed in my strength, especially to my Papa and my former varsity coach, and our university for their continued support.” This passion culminated in a golden victory as one of VSU's representatives at the National SCUAA Games 2017.

Lara highlights the importance of teammates and coaches in her athletic journey. In table tennis, she emphasizes the need for trust and faith within the team. Reminiscing about her recent stint at the 37th SCUAA Games - Region 8, she consistently uses "we" when referring to their victory. “In our minds, we thought, ‘We need to let the Single B play,’” she narrates. “It was the first game of the ‘season,’ but the victory felt like we won the entire championship!” This strong start ultimately paved the way for the VSU Pythons' participation in the National SCUAA 2023.

    Looking Back at the Past to Face the Future

Balancing self-care and time management remains a significant challenge for Lara. “I need to take care of my body because, of course, I have training. Then, after training, I still need to have the energy to study. When I’m vacant, I can either rest or proceed to my other responsibilities.” However, as a future chemist studying in VSU, she would sometimes encounter instructors who were not so understanding about her situation. “I totally understand their commitment to fostering competitive students, so I don’t hold it against them.” 

When asked if she’ll continue her table tennis journey after graduation, Lara answered that, . “It would be nice to continue, knowing we brought the team that far (nationals)! But for now, I'm passing the torch to my siblings who are also passionate about the sport.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Pedrera has temporarily halted her athletic pursuits to prioritize her doctoral studies at Cebu Normal University. She concurrently fulfills her roles as the VSU Women's Varsity Chess team coach and a faculty member in DTE. Despite this focus shift, Ms. Pedrera maintains her mental agility through occasional chess practice. 

"I've been invited to several tournaments," she shares, "and I'm eager to participate once I complete my doctoral degree. I want to ensure I'm fully prepared before returning to competitive playing.”

Both Ms. Tulin and Ms. Pedrera emphasize the importance of humility, sportsmanship, and viewing opponents as equals. "Kaduwa ta, dili ta kaaway (We are fellow players, not enemies)," they advise aspiring student-athletes. Ms. Pedrera highlights the beauty of chess, “Chess is life. It can really teach you to think strategically and anticipate future outcomes.” For those who wish to play ping-pong, Ms. Lara narrates how the sport fostered her independence and self-confidence. “You’ll be faced with challenges, and it won’t be easy, but believing in God, yourself, and your support system is key to overcoming them.”

Passing the Torch of Excellence, Burning Brightly for a Century

As Visayas State University (VSU) approaches its centennial year, we are reminded that excellence remains a core value. The university nurtures not only the future of Science and Technology (S&T) development but also the cultivation of exceptional individuals. 


Viscans like Lara Jetcah Tulin and Hilda A. Pedrera embody this standard by exceeding expectations. They demonstrate people-centric leadership and a commitment to academic excellence, inspiring others, and giving back to the community. Through their journeys, we discover the depths of our potential and face the challenges of life with courage, knowing we are not alone in this endeavor.



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