October is Filipino American History Month (FAHM)! Filipino American History Month celebrates the culture, experiences, and lives of Filipino Americans throughout history.

This year marks historic firsts for campus institutions to uplift the Filipinx community via events, exhibits, and digital archives honoring FAHM — to learn more, check out the email from Dania Matos, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion, sent campus-wide earlier this month.

Before the month comes to a close, we asked Avey Laudiano Songco (BS IEOR ’22) to share how her heritage shaped her journey at IEOR and beyond. Read her story below.

Happy FAHM community! My father is Kapampangan, my mother is Visayan, and they both immigrated to the U.S. in their 20’s. Like many immigrant men from the Philippines, my dad worked any job available that involved handy work and no college degree. Through my dad, I found my love for tinkering which ultimately led to the pursuit of my engineering degree.

“Isang Bagsak” is a unity clap which originates from the United Farm Workers Movement of the 60’s. At the end of each work day, farm workers would start this clap off slow, like a heartbeat, and steadily increase in speed until ending with “ISANG BAGSAK!” and one triumphant clap. In Tagalog, “Isang Bagsak” means “one down” or “one fall”. For me, Isang Bagsak means that I rise and fall with my community that I owe so much to. Part of my Cal community was formed when I tapped more into my roots by joining a PAAM, taking the Filipino language class, and networking with lifelong friends and connections within the Pinxy community. As a child of immigrant parents, my time in college was the fruit of their arduous labor so I strived to make the most of my time there. I had the privilege of studying abroad, DJing for the school, and being involved in the Engineering Student Council’s Equity and Inclusion committee. I actually would have never even seen the Philippines if it weren’t for the GLOBE ambassador program through the College of Engineering! It was through this opportunity that I was fortunate enough to see my country for the first time while exploring global engineering.

My motivation for my academic and professional pursuits has always been to ultimately uplift and empower my community because I would not be who I am today, nor where I am without it. My upbringing in my Filipinx household, city, and community lead to my passion for the intersection between engineering and design with social inequities and community empowerment and as I move through my professional life, I aim to bring more Filipinx representation and visibility in the spaces I enter.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Avey!