Corazon F. Azucena ‘58
During the 44th UPLB commencement ceremonies held on 25 June 2016, Ms. Nelia Teodoro Gonzalez was conferred the Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) at the DL Umali Freedom Park.
In her acceptance speech, she was immensely grateful for the honor accorded to her. She revealed that she has been supporting the university for more than 70 years and takes pride in having UPLB as her Alma Mater. She recalled that she has chosen to be involved in shaping the future of the university both personally and professionally, one of which is her involvement in the UP’s flagship project, Ugnayan ng Pahinugod. She volunteered her time to it so she can inspire in others, the spirit of volunteerism. She also encouraged the graduates to do their share of rendering service to the public in whatever position they might be in or in whatever form it could as there are many ways of doing service to the nation. She maintains that anyone can leave a mark and make a positive impact whether in public or in the private sector. What is essential, she said, is living and serving God and fellowmen.
Dr. Gonzalez graduated with a degree in BS Agriculture in 1944, major in Plant Pathology and marched as the only female graduate of UP College of Agriculture during her time.
In her biography book, she was cited as one with an unrelenting service to the university where it occupies a special place in her life. Credited for federating the alumni associations of the College of Agriculture, College of Forestry and other colleges, she was elected as its charter president. She has served UPLB as the president of its alumni association for 15 years.
The biggest opportunity to serve her Alma Mater came when she was appointed by then President Fidel Ramos to be a member of the Board of Regents for two terms. Dr. Gonzalez considers her position as a Regent to be the most fulfilling assignment she has ever assumed. Dr. Emil Javier, who was then the UP President, remembers Nelia who selflessly served the university. She can get things done, very dependable and hardworking.
Amidst her public service and private entrepreneurial pursuits, the UP has been her centerpiece of unrelenting service and motivation for excellence. Culminating her legacy and service to the university is the P85 million Bahay ng Alumni building which remits a monthly revenue of about PhP500,000. At 92 years old, she still maintains her various civic involvements, humanitarian commitments and public service.