Skip to main content

Pursuit of Growth and Grace

Raianne Sereene Baysa, a senior majoring in psychology from Ilagan, Philippines, shares how her hometown served as the fertile ground where dreams were nurtured and aspirations took flight. Now, amid the lush landscapes of Brigham Young University–Hawaii, this journey continues, marked by unwavering determination, profound gratitude, and an unyielding commitment to growth.

Portrait of Raianne Sereene Baysa
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Sereene’s Journey

Baysa proudly claims the "Corn Capital of the Philippines" and the "Rice Bowl of the North" as her home. She shared that “Ilagan, specifically, is known for its hardworking people and vibrant nature.” Growing up with this example of hard work would serve her well through the next several years. Her journey, though strewn with challenges, is a testament to the power of perseverance and the transformative potential of education.

Before her sojourn to BYUH, Baysa found herself immersed in the world of journalism, honing her skills as a budding photojournalist and leading her peers as the editor-in-chief at Isabela National High School and later at the University of Santo Tomas. However, after two years into her bachelor’s program, she began to feel drawn to serve the Lord as a missionary.

Instead of comparing herself to her peers who were already serving or returning from missions, Baysa firmly stated, “I was focused on my will to serve, knowing that the only person I need to compare myself with is myself.” She was called to serve as a missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission and the Montana Billings Mission. It was during these transformative 18 months that Baysa discovered not only the profound joy of service but also a newfound passion for childhood and family studies.

Her unwavering faith and resilience were further tested during the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitioning to online learning at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, navigating time zone disparities, and overcoming personal adversities, Baysa exemplified resilience in the face of adversity.

Portrait of Baysa
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

“Do it Afraid”

Throughout her journey, Baysa drew inspiration from her guiding principles, finding solace in scriptures and embracing the mantra of "Do it afraid." “...Good and bad will always give me two things: experience and growth,” Baysa said. Regarding spiritual growth, she also shared, saying, “[Christ] feels and relates to everything I am going through as a student. Because of the promise of His companionship forever, I no longer have to fear...” Armed with a sense of purpose, she began her journey in BYUH.

Valuable Lessons Learned on Campus

At BYUH, Baysa discovered a nurturing community that embraced her with open arms, providing not only academic enrichment but also unwavering support during times of personal tribulation. Her encounters with compassionate professors and mentors, including Dr. Eric Orr and the staff at Hau'ula Elementary School Counseling Services, reinforced her belief in the transformative power of mentorship and service.

Reflecting on her journey, Baysa shares three invaluable lessons gleaned from her BYUH experience. Firstly, the importance of grace, both in extending it to others and practicing self-compassion. Secondly, a deep-seated love for lifelong learning and the pursuit of higher education. She states, “I have also gained a deep-rooted love for constant learning and higher education through the opportunities and resources I have had here.” And finally, the profound impact of charity in effecting meaningful change in the world.

To students embarking on their own academic odyssey, Baysa offers sage advice: prioritize self-care, embrace challenges with courage, and never underestimate the transformative power of education. “Also, enroll in that challenging class! You can do hard things!” she said, adding, “you will be surprised at what you can do when you don’t underestimate yourself in the first place... I testify that the Lord will allow us to see the relevance of everything we have learned here at His university.”

Portrait of Raianne Sereene Baysa
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Moving Forward

As Baysa bids farewell to her alma mater, she sets her sights on new horizons, fueled by an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a commitment to service. With aspirations of pursuing a master's degree in counseling or clinical psychology, Baysa stands poised to chart new territories, becoming the first in her family to achieve such educational heights.

As Raianne Sereene Baysa’s time at BYU–Hawaii comes to a close, her journey from Ilagan to BYUH is remembered as not merely a geographical passage but a testament to her perseverance and how education can shape lives. Baysa’s journey inspires all students to embrace growth, grace, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.