A distinguished professor was walking along the corridor of the university to return to her office as dean of the College of Science. At the same time, a DOST scholar saw her and realized she was carrying books and bags so he ran to carry her things for her. She smiled and thanked the student. His help was very much appreciated as the professor just finished teaching Physics to her class.
Upon reaching her Office, she saw students waiting for her for consultation and to seek her advice. Despite her tiredness from teaching since 7 o’clock in the morning, and despite the meetings scheduled for the day, she found time to talk to the students one by one.
That was the way she was and that was how I knew the one and only Dr. Rosario Sotto.
She was already preparing for her retirement when I first met her. But that was already enough for me to realize how worthwhile and meaningful the years of our scholars had been, with her as the project director of the DOST-SEI Undergraduate Scholarships in our university.
Ma’am Rosie was a teacher at the Jose Abad Santos High School for about twenty-five years before she became a Science professor at the Philippine Normal University. I even got to meet some of the students whose lives she changed for the better. I learned about a particular high school student who almost lost hope because she was failing in class and in life. But Ma’am Rosie gave her encouragement and hope. She supported and guided her until she learned to believe in herself and in her capabilities. Years later, she became successful yet she still found ways to find Ma’am Rosie. She knew she owed it all to her.
Likewise, the DOST scholars loved her because she taught them lessons beyond the four corners of the classroom. She taught them about life itself. She was a disciplinarian yet she was soft-mannered. There was never a time when she reprimanded students that would make them feel embarrassed, especially in public. She always disciplined them in private.
This beloved professor knew every name and every personal story of the scholars. She was there during their most difficult times and she was there to celebrate their achievements. She would also be the first one to laugh at their jokes! And even when she already retired from teaching, she was there to provide them with recommendation letters for their master’s or doctorate degrees, as well as for their job applications. Up to this very day, she is just an email or text message away.
Ma’am Rosie chose to give hope and inspiration not just for students, but for all people she encountered. She believed in their goodness and capabilities. Aside from this, she was already sure they’d reach success even in those moments when people were still very unsure of themselves. She was the definition of optimism itself.
Ma’am Rosie continues to be busy though she has retired from teaching. She is a writer and editor from elementary to senior high school Science books. The training she got from teaching in the secondary school and in college definitely gave her the edge to write books that can be easily understood.
We seldom see and talk to Ma’am Rosie now. But she continues to be an inspiration to us all. Her kindness, guidance and wisdom are just beyond compare. She didn’t only make us better individuals, but she has definitely touched our lives.