Fire has fueled Dr. Stephanie Dygico Gapud’s career. She was a staff forester at the Alabama Forestry Commission where she trained to be a Prescribed Burn Manager and completed basic training for Wildland Firefighters. She decided to go back to graduate school when a 400-year-old church burned in her hometown, Vinzons Camarines Norte, Philippines. She wanted to earn more so that she could help finance the rebuilding with other classmates.
Her dissertation, “Leadership on Fire: Mindfully Shared” was inspired by her time with the forestry commission. It is about how teams fighting wildfire in Alabama share leadership even though the organizational structure is hierarchical.
Dr. Gapud found more than financial empowerment, she found her “Ikegai” (reason for being) at Spring Hill College. Analyzing the economic downfall of 2008 and learning that MBA graduates played a considerable part in the housing market bubble and its collapse led to a realization we must change how we educate our future business leaders. She saw a need for business leaders who care about the triple bottom line; people, planet, and profit.
Dr. Gapud sees academia as important to hone one’s personal values, vision, and mission. And her mission as an educator at Spring Hill College is to help young people create a hope-filled future through innovative educational experiences to develop the whole person- body, mind, and spirit. And she loves working for an organization that fulfills her professional and spiritual needs.
Knowledge work is becoming the norm across the globe and education is an essential part of workforce development. Alabama is falling behind and Dr. Gapud wants Alabamians to supply the expertise needed by industry and for our educational systems to draw new business by investing in our people. She believes funding higher education and making it available to all will guarantee growth for Alabama. And that being a lifelong learner is essential to stay relevant and have a continuous understanding of our environment. She also believes that education is so critical to a community’s success that access to quality higher education should be free.
“If a third-world country like the Philippines can provide free college education, the U.S. should be able to find a way to make similar, if not better, higher education opportunities for its people.”
As a mother of 5 she wants professional environments to be more welcoming and supportive to women by expanding senior and children’s daycare. And to allow people to work from home in times of family illness. Women are human resources that are mostly untapped globally because they provide care for the children and the elderly. Their talents and expertise are not being utilized in providing for the other needs of the community.
“I hope for women in the Mobile and the Gulf Coast areas to be gritty as they discern and pursue a life path they envisioned and not be time-bound. Not time bound because the journey is theirs and no one should dictate when is the right time to study for a degree or take vocational training that they discern will bring them to a path of greater service or provide value that others will be willing to pay and therefore will bring them success.”
She says grit is more important than intelligence when it comes to determining success. And she’s inspired when she sees love, trust, loyalty and commitment of people working together in a team, family, or any organization.
Her history and faith are important to her so she was President of the Filipino Catholic Ministry in Mobile, an organization that helps Filipinos in Mobile and nearby cities to stay connected and celebrate their culture. She has also represented the Philippines in the Mobile’s International Festival and helped educate the younger generation of the uniqueness of the Philippines culture and the kind of contribution that immigrants make to the US. Her biggest hope for the future is that women and minorities will not have to fight for the right to be treated equally.
“Free will is the greatest gift from God; therefore, women should have control of their choices as they exercise their will.”
Dr. Stephanie Dygico Gapud Spring Hill College, Faculty (Assistant Professor)
Title: Spring Hill College, Faculty (Assistant Professor)
Hometown: Vinzons, Camarines Norte, Philippines
Currently Resides: Mobile, Alabama
Family: Husband and Mother of 5
Degrees: B.S. in Forest Products Engineering, and M.Sc. in Forestry from the University of the Philippines
MBA from Spring Hill College;
PhD. in Business Administration from the University of South Alabama.