Professor Emerita Josefina S. Cornelio
For 114 years now, Silliman has stood steadfast amidst time and history. Etched in the corners of its walls are the many contributions and milestones that this institution has imparted not only to this country but even to the world. Tested through the years, Silliman has not only established itself as one of the country’s premier academic institutions; it has also served as a laboratory of the country’s finest professionals driven by sublime character, optimum competence, and an unwavering faith. Home to so many outstanding graduates, Silliman University continues to soar to greater heights with the continued service of those who have been molded by Silliman itself. These notable individuals have become the University’s scaffolding in its continued and everlasting quest for excellence with a conscience.
To those whose lives have been changed in a drastic yet beautiful way by Silliman University’s nurturing hands: there is nothing sweeter and more rewarding than giving back and rendering their sincerest service and dedication to Silliman University. These people have felt blessing at its finest that they have regarded so much love and respect to the very institution that has shaped them into the individuals that they have become. Of the array of stories we can take a look at, one story definitely would come most fitting and inspiring. This story is a journey of one of Silliman University’s ardent foundations in the field of English Literature and Teacher Education for a span of 38 years. This is the story of Professor Emeritus Josefina Solis Cornelio, nominated as an Outstanding Teacher of the Philippines in 1984 and awarded as an Outstanding Oriental Negrense in 2006.
Born on the 28th day of July in the year 1931, Josefina grew up to be a jolly and enthusiastic child. She was nurtured by a family who valued love, forgiveness, and responsibility above anything else. Even at such a tender age, she was already quite certain as to what she would become in the future for during those times when they played “balay-balay” with her cousins, Josefina would always play the role of the teacher. Caught in the middle of the war in her early elementary years, Josefina did not let anything stop her from acquiring the education that she deserved. Since the school in her hometown had to close during the war, Josefina, together with some friends, walked kilometres just to reach the nearest elementary school located in the next city available that time. She graduated valedictorian in high school at East Negros Institute in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.
She took up Education major in English Literature at Silliman University in the year 1952 and graduated magna cum laude in 1955. Even before her graduation, she was asked to take over the classes of one teacher who at that time was on a maternity leave. Impressed with her performance, she received an invitation from the University the following school year to serve as a regular teacher in the High School Department. Since then, her life revolved around the simple joys of teaching and the rewarding feeling of giving her best service to Silliman University.
But she did not stop there. She completed further studies and finished her M.A Major in Education at Silliman University in 1957. Then, she completed her Ph.D. Major in Teacher Education at Michigan State University, USA. She represented the University in various seminars and workshops nationally and internationally and was even able to teach for six months at Alaska University, USA. Her unquestionable competence and years of training have made her one of Silliman University’s most loved and celebrated teacher. She always managed to inculcate tenderness and a motherly touch in her teaching that is why her students would never ever forget her even long after they have graduated. Gestures of gratitude and thanks from all those people whose lives she touched in one way or another are the things that keep her heart young and renewed. During her whole stay in Silliman University, Josefina became Vice President for Academic Affairs for two years, and has been instrumental in the establishment of the Office of Instruction.
A proficient teacher and a loving mother of five, she is indeed a superwoman whose life is a prime example of perseverance coupled with faith, grace, and humility. Her lifelong mission to touch and influence others through the art of teaching has propelled her towards the pedestal of excellence and success. Just like how the acacia trees and the cool breeze of the sea seem to converge and equate the greatness that Silliman is, Professor Emeritus Josefina Solis Cornelio will forever leave a legacy in the deepest contours of what truly makes up Silliman University now and always.
Describe yourself in three words.
What is your motto in life?
Live through the fullest through thick and thin.
What makes you laugh?
What makes you cry?
When my former students, friends, and relatives visit me with some token of thanks.
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
6 am. It is usually the time I get to spend with God and thank Him for another day of continued guidance.
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Saturday and Sunday, when my children and their respective families dine with me.
What do you love doing when not working?
Reminiscing and thinking what more I can do.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
The Vice President’s Office.
What makes you blush?
When I am appreciated in what I wear.
If you were an actor, who would you be?
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
Balay-balay with my cousins and I was always the teacher.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Reminiscing and thinking what more I can do.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
All my Love.
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
I give thanks to Lord Jesus Christ for giving me another day of His continued guidance.
What is your idea of a family?
Father, Mother, and Children joined together in harmony.
At this point of your life, what for you is your life’s mission?
That I continue to help others.
How do you like to be remembered as a teacher?
I’d like to be remembered for my “soft touch”.