Inspiration

Aika Robredo Finishes Master's at Harvard, 19 Years After Her Father, Jesse

The eldest daughter of Jesse and Leni Robredo shares what she's learned during her year abroad.
IMAGE TWITTER @aikarobredo
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If the future is in the hands of our graduates, then there’s little to worry about, as many of them are doing us proud.

Graduates from both local universities and prestigious institutions abroad are raking in diplomas and awards, and among those are the offspring of our nation’s leaders.

Vice President Leni Robredo is one proud mother. She announced that her eldest daughter Aika Robredo just completed her Mid-Career Master’s studies in Public Administration as an Edward S. Mason Fellow at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Governance.  In a Facebook post, the public official shared a photo of her husband, the late Jesse Robredo, juxtaposed with one of her and her daughter. She captioned it:

“Two pictures, 19 years apart, taken at the exact same venue—the JFK School of Government Forum. Both photos were taken on the day of the Edward S. Mason Program Certification Ceremony.

19 years ago, it was Jesse graduating, This year, it is Aika’s turn.”

Two pictures, 19 years apart, taken at the exact same venue-the JFK School of Government Forum. Both photos were taken...

Posted by Leni Gerona Robredo on Monday, May 21, 2018

In a separate post, Aika also shared a photo of her and her mother at the Mason Certificate Ceremony on May 21. The Mason fellowship is specially granted to students who come from developing countries. The duo was dressed in similarly colored garb. She noted in her caption, “My mother intentionally coordinated her outfit with me when I told her I was going to wear my maroon Filipiniana. Because why not.”

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Twinning with Aika at the Edward S. Mason Certification Ceremony at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Posted by Leni Gerona Robredo on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Aika, who was also accepted to Oxford University’s Master of Public Policy Program last year, decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and enrolled in Jesse’s alma mater. The stateman completed his master’s program in 1999. His daughter graduates on May 24, Thursday.

Graduation ????????????????‍????????????????

Posted by Leni Gerona Robredo on Thursday, May 24, 2018

Aika says following the same path as her father’s was unintentional. “I’ve always been a planner and had been laying out professional goals I had for myself five, 10, and 15 years ahead,” she tells Town&Country. “But after my father died, I became less deliberate with my life and career choices. Being more flexible and allowing the universe to take over sometimes has been liberating and has opened doors and opportunities for me that I would never have considered.”

After working in the government and private sector for a number of years, Aika decided it was time to further her education. “I thought an MPA degree would be a good complement to that.”

She says, however, that she would have liked to speak to her father about their shared education. “I do wish I had gotten the chance to ask my father what classes he took and which professors he liked. It would be interesting to see how different or similar our choices were.”

Jesse Robredo would have turned 60 on May 27 this year. The Interior and Local Government Secretary died in a plane crash in 2012.

During her year at the Harvard Kennedy School, Aika says she been immersed in a plethora of experiences accompanied by a diverse crowd.

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“In my program, I had classmates from every possible field I could think of—in NGOs and both the private and public sectors.” Among her classmates were a once-tortured political prisoner from Venezuela, a diplomat, a former Secretary of Energy in Argentina, journalists from India and China, military personnel from the U.S., Jordan, and Israel, and human rights advocates. “The variety of their opinions made for interesting and enlightening conversations,” she adds.

“To see the world as big and small at the same time, to understand that while we come from different places and different contexts, our problems may be similar, and to appreciate the value of listening to people, especially those with points of view that directly clash with yours” gave Aika a change in perspective, she says.

When Aika comes home from Cambridge, she’ll have no shortage of stories to tell of her “wonderful” experience studying in the same city she and her family lived in when she was 10 years old. “We don’t always get second chances and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to live here again as an adult.”

Aika is due to come home in the next few days to work in the Philippines. “It had always been the plan and was clear to me all throughout,” she said.

It’s been a big month for Leni and her three daughters. After Aika’s graduation, the vice president will fly back to the Philippines immediately for her second daughter Tricia’s coating ceremony at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health on May 26. A few days after, the youngest Robredo, Jillian, will be graduating from Philippine Science High School.

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Congratulations, graduates!

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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