Lieutenant Commander, Nurse Corps, United States Navy , UNO-R High School 1976,
UNO-R 2016 Most Outstanding Alumni-Humanitarian Service Award
Honored guests, my fellow UNO-R Alumni, former high school teachers: It is an honor to be back here in Bacolod City and to our Alma Mater University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. Forty years ago, 1976 to be exact, we walked the UNO-R high school hallways, innocent and full of dreams; I had only one dream at that young age…to get out of poverty. Since then, I have travelled the “Seven Seas” as the saying goes…and I have worked with the poorest of the poor on board the United States Navy Hospital Ships: the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort for the Humanitarian missions in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Panama, Antigua, Barbaros, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines. These humanitarian missions are quite shocking for my young American Sailors, who have never seen extreme poverties. These humanitarian missions have kept me grounded and humbled because I knew what it is like to be poor. I was deployed in Germany for over a year, providing nursing care to the US wounded warriors from the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. I have also provided nursing and medical care to our enemies, which is the most challenging part of my job as a Navy nurse. When I’m not serving in the United States Navy, I am a nursing supervisor for the California Department of Corrections, we provide nursing and medical care to the most unwanted men in California. My philosophy in working at these prisons is simple- Respect. I would tell my new nurses, you are not here to judge these men, you are working here because you are a nurse. We are extremely grateful and honored to be the recipients of the Most Outstanding Distinguished Alumni awards. We share these awards in honor of our family who helped us along the way, who gave us support, encouragement, and love. We also share these awards in honor of our parents, especially my parents Lino and Florence Montebon-my mother who believed that the UNO-R high school education was the best for me and she is right. My active duty deployments for the United States Navy could not have been possible (when I’m away for months) without the full support of my husband, Byron Heard, my two sons, Brian and Andrew, my parents who are always worried and proud of this daughter (who came from a tiny little island called Negros) serving in the United States Navy and of course, my UNO-R high school classmates 1976, my greatest cheerleaders and supporters. They say that we are shaped by our past, I am proud to say that UNO- R high school was an important part of my past. What I remember the most when we were in high school is Father Rodrigalvarez, our high school principal, monitoring the hallways and he made sure that we were always in our best behaviors and followed the rules. My UNO-R high school classmates are very special to me. But there is one extra special classmate here whom I’d like to mention and honor because at sixteen years old, she was generous and kind hearted. In our senior year, that was the year when I felt truly poor because my parents left Bacolod City to go to Minapasok to care for my sick Lolo. So one day, this classmate noticed that I was walking funny, I told her that my shoes had holes, the next day, she gave me a pair of shoes. At one time, we were having our high school party but I told her that I could not attend because I didn’t have a nice dress to wear. This classmate took me to a department store and bought me a nice dress. I would go back for our afternoon classes, feeling hungry, this classmate would give me 10 pesos so that I can buy “batsoy” at the bowling alley next to UNO-R. Susie Ching-Evangelista please stand up, your generosity and kind heart in high school have been an inspiration to me wherever I go. I feel truly blessed to have had the chance to realize a dream and not only attend but graduated from the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos High School. WE thank the alumni association for this honor and will forever hold UNO-R in our hearts. Each one of us who are chosen to receive these awards is extremely grateful to the UNO-R Alumni Association. THANK YOU.