Rizalyn has not let her humble beginnings stand in the way of her education. Growing up in a remote and impoverished village in a tropical jungle in the Philippines, she is a true example of how sheer determination, courage and diligence can turn a dream into reality.
Long gone are the days of trekking barefoot 15 kilometres each way through the jungle to get to school. Today, Rizalyn gives back to the ANU community and her native Philippines through her various volunteering and leadership commitments. She has been a mentor and companion for many students. She was a team leader for the Young Visionaries group, providing support for fellow PhD students and early career researchers, and it was under her leadership that the group was awarded the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Community Outreach in 2011. In addition to her current PhD studies in neuroscience, Rizalyn is also an ANU alumni volunteer.
Her hardships growing up have evidently shaped the generous and warm person that Rizalyn is today. She is an active volunteer for the Australian Red Cross, taking time out of her day to visit elderly patients in their homes, hospitals or aged care facilities to provide companionship and assist in their daily chores and activities.
Rizalyn has never forgotten her roots. In 2006, she supported an orphanage in the Philippines, and this continued dedication eventually led her to assume a leadership role at the Shepherds Arms Orphanage in 2011.
In 2011, Rizalyn continued her charitable efforts in the Philippines by providing books, school supplies and computers in a remote jungle school. Educational resources were scarce before her efforts. She also arranged free eye check-ups for the children and even provides scholarships to promising students from the village to attend university.
Since then, her commitment to the Philippines has only become stronger. The recent 7.4 magnitude earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines saw Rizalyn once again step up. She conducted a fundraising drive for the victims of this disaster, and continues to this day to support her home country whenever she can.