The Bayanihan Foundation honors the indefatigable spirit of the late Dr. Jolynne Andal Biljetina, PhD. Her friends and family set up the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Community Leadership Award and Scholarship. This scholarship award will honor Jolynne’s commitment to helping children and the community. The award will support a potential recipient in their pursuit of higher education in psychology, community health, or a related field and continue Jolynne’s spirit of helping others.
I miss Jolynne Andal Biljetina. In 2005, I’ve worked with Jolynne, Maria Ferrera, Jocelyn Andal, Jerry and Flor Clarito, Juanita Burris, Lawrence Benito, and many others as part of Operation Mango, a community based participatory research project where we conducted hundreds of community surveys of Filipino Americans in Chicago. Our weekly meetings and ‘salo salo’ (get together) was remarkable. Through Maria Ferrera’s research scholarship, we’ve put together a comprehensive research and community project that illuminated a lot of facts and challenges of the invisible Filipino American community in Chicago. Filipino Americans at that time and, is still now, often invisible. They are often lumped together as successful “Asian Americans” and perpetuate the model minority myth. Jolynne and Operation Mango research group found out the truth behind the ‘success facade’ – the high rate of depression and suicide among young Filipino Americans; the challenges of the growing ‘tago ng tago TNT’ (always hiding) undocumented immigrants; and the lack of Filipino cultural and heritage awareness among the second generation as they become more ‘American’.
I miss Jolynne’s smile and laughter. We would have serious discussions of challenges of Filipino American community in Chicago but she would punctuate our deliberations with her infectious laugh.
I miss Jolynne’s dedication helping children and the community. Jolynne has dedicated her professional life working on behalf of very young children and ensuring there were effective policies in place to support children’s health and well-being. I’ve first know Jolynne when she was working at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. Most recently, Jolynne worked at Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, she worked on a national cross-site evaluation of the Abandoned Infant Assistance program, which aims to promote the safety, permanency and well-being of infants and young children whose families have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. She also worked for the Chicago Public Schools in the Office of Early Education, identifying strategies and policies to help preschool programs meet the educational needs of young children. I didn’t know that Jolynne even consulted for Sesame Street (Sesame Workshop).
On April 19, 2017, at the age of 45, Jolynne passed away peacefully in her home after a courageous battle with mesothelioma. Jolynne was the beloved wife of Eric Biljetina and loving mother of sons, Eli and Ethan. In her honor, her friends and family set up the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Ph.D. Community Leadership Award. This scholarship award honors her commitment to children and her community. This scholarship award also honors Jolynne’s beautiful laugh and spirit to make this world a better place and her indefatigable spirit to help. So would you donate to help keep her legacy and commitment to help children alive? Donate now.
To learn more about the scholarship and rules to apply, click HERE.