GRADUATES of St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City commemorated their 75th foundation day with the launch of “Solitaires: Stories of Light, Life and Love”. Among the alumnae whose stories are featured are Filipino Americans who have made a difference in their adopted countries. Last issue focused on career and life coach Terry Samala de Guzman and tech journalist Marilou Sazon Porter.
BERNADETTE ABRERA TJARKS
Bernadette Abrera-Tjarks gained her expertise in mental health at Catholic University in Washington, DC where she earned a PH D in social psychology after acquiring her BS Pre-Med at the University of the Philippines. Today she teaches psychology and statistics online and is a university lecturer in Texas.
The STCQC HS ’67 grad worked at American Airlines and GTE/Verizon Wholesale Business Development Division. Her narrative honors her father, whom she lovingly describes as a “towering figure” and whose passing “blindsided” her.
“The congruence between STC values and my father’s attributes kept me focused during my schoolyears,” explained the middle child. She constantly won medals for excellence and praise from her parents as a result. Beyond school, however, her desire to please in relationships waned, leading her to reflect on what truly matters.
MARICHELLE ROQUE LUTZ
Marichelle Roque Lutz ultimately resumed her journalism that peaked in Manila as editor in chief of Woman’s Home Companion when she married a missionary and uprooted to Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. Undeterred to settle comfortably into her transplant life, she looked up and tried out jobs detached from the glittering scenario of fashion shows and celebrity parties typical of invitations inundating mail boxes of women’s magazines. No one was surprised when Roque Lutz eventually joined the newsroom of Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster County until she retired. In 2018 she penned her memoir “Keeping It Together” and is working on a novel.
Her narrative is a veritable act of contrition that bares her regret for shunning her childhood best friend and fellow journalist – over a boy. The story manifests the STC HS ’57 grad’s humility and grace as she asks forgiveness when her former bestie’s life is cut short.
NINA CABRERA MUNOZ
Nina Cabrera Munoz was among 5 Theresian sisters who strongly believes her educational “path” was a crucial “strand” that prepared her for her legal career. Law, she says, “looks glamorous on TV but it’s tedious work.” She’s a workaholic, she admits, a perfect fit in the law arena where “analysis and verbal combat” are prerequisite.
Now a retired administrative law judge in workers’ compensation in Los Angeles, Cabrera Munoz defies the docile Asian stereotype. When she came to the US, the STC HS ’70 grad vowed “never to become a second-class citizen” and aimed for the top wherever she went. At 1980s giant Prudential Insurance Company, she took advantage of the educational perk offered in her department, choosing law as her next field.
She dedicated 20 years practicing law, enhancing her understanding of both plaintiff and defense ends of cases. Confidently she took qualifying exams and was appointed by the governor through the Dept. of Industrial Relations. She chose to highlight her STCQC education in her narrative because it led “internally” to the pinnacle of her career. “The 12 years in STC you carry throughout your life travels with you, something you wear inside you – maybe the drive for excellence or whatever the occasion demands,” she affirmed.
“Solitaires” is a keepsake for everyone who attended or who has a loved one who attended St. Theresa’s College. It is also a road map for anyone seeking role models, especially those living far from home, away from their comfort zone.