Tanay lass graduates summa cum laude from Canadian university, helps disabled kids through research

A 21-year old Filipina who graduated summa cum laude from a Canadian university is hoping to continue fulfilling her dreams in the foreign country where she now lives, and reach her goal to help children with disabilities through her research.

(Photo Courtesy of Geil Astorga)

Born and raised in Tanay, Rizal, Geil Han Gapido recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities major in Communication Studies from McMaster University in Ontario, where she now works at CanChild, a childhood disability research center at the school.

Her research is in the field of communications and pediatric rehabilitation. She aims to explore the potential of social media in knowledge translation, a process that involves the application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, and provide more effective health services and products to strengthen the Canadian health care system.

“I am hoping that in the future, my work will help researchers to reach the stakeholders that will benefit from the knowledge generated, as well as for patients, children or families, to be more involved all throughout the research process, “ Astorga wrote in an email message forwarded by a relative to Manila Bulletin.

Astorga's research is funded by McMaster University, named in 2019 Canada’s most research-intensive university in the Research Infosource annual rankings, and ranked No. 2 that same year in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings for global impact.

Astorga, who was a scholar in college at Far Eastern University and a valedictorian in high school at the University of Rizal System, collaborates at CanChild with a multidisciplinary team composed of scientists, clinicians, researchers, and other professionals from all over the world, to bridge the gap between research findings and their practical application.

Astorga, whose mother was a professor at the University of Rizal System-Pililla campus and now lives in Canada, and her father, a former sales executive who lives in Tanay, is also part of another research project that explores the benefits of internship for undergraduate students of Canada and develops strategies to support them during their transition to online employment due to the pandemic.

Tanay Mayor Rex Manuel Tanjuatco earlier sent a congratulatory message to Astorga, saying that she has made the people of Tanay proud for her "sheer determination to make the best of this year despite the challenges resulting from the COVID-19."

Astorga moved to Canada in 2016 and entered the Canadian university in 2017, first enrolling in legal studies. She became a licensed paralegal at the Law Society of Ontario and worked two other jobs while completing her Communications degree at the university.