Ria Chong interviewed Mathematics Professor Queena Lee-Chua as she handed over the Most Legendary Female Professor award.
Ria Chong (RC): How do you feel about winning this award?
Queena Lee-Chua (QL): First, I was shocked because I had no idea. My students were not telling me anything. Second, I feel thankful that students are grateful because sometimes when students are too wired with their problems. They are hurting, and when that happens, they forget to say, “thank you,” not just by verbalizing it, but by doing well in the tests. I also feel validated because I’m really exhausted. I’m not complaining. I chose this profession, and I love teaching; however, I am not prepared with the number of students with personal problems. Counseling them takes more than 10 hours a week. I am not happy that many kids nowadays don’t seem to be resilient in dealing with common problems. They are flunking their tests. Those are dragging me down. That is why to have this award had a wow factor. It’s a validation that maybe, despite my exhaustion, there is something good that is happening and I should go on. Maybe this means more to me than any other national award because I know I’m nominated. This one, I had no idea.
RC: What’s your message to your students whom voted for you?
QL: I have to say thank you for this. There are so many teachers who deserve it, and I am not going to be falsely humble to say that I don’t deserve it because I know I do. I know I’m not the only one. Many of us are toiling in the unknown. Thank you for the honor, but [I] know that to whom much is given, much is expected. The reason why we teachers continue to do what we do is the fact that this country needs people who are good and who love the country—[and] not just love: Loving is not enough. You have to do your best. Doing best means doing well in school. There is no other way out. If you do your best in school, bluntly, that is the best gift [for the teachers].