In 2020, EnCompass has been honored to provide scholarships enabling Ana Erika Lareza and other EvalYouth members to attend courses at the EnCompass Learning Center (ELC). This partnership with EvalYouth is an important part of our Eval4Action commitments to supporting young and emerging evaluators. Offering EvalYouth participation is also in line with the values and mission of the ELC, which strives to create high-quality online learning programs that are accessible from anywhere in the world.
Erika was one of the first recipients of our ELC EvalYouth scholarship. Based in the Philippines, she is a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) specialist and researcher, co-leader for the EvalYouth Asia Chapter, Secretariat for the EvalYouth Global Network’s E-learning Taskforce, and the Secretariat for the Asia-Pacific Evaluation Association. She took time out of her schedule to talk to us about her evaluation journey and her experience with the ELC.
What led you to the evaluation profession and EvalYouth?
I finished a degree in environmental science and my career took off toward monitoring and evaluation. I gained hands-on experience on M&E through volunteering and working directly with my mentor, Professor Romeo B. Santos, who is actively engaged on M&E consultancy projects with different government agencies and organizations from the private sector.
Professor Santos discussed the concept of M&E and on how it is different from environmental impact assessments practiced in the Philippines. I saw how M&E could play a big role in measuring the impact of environmental initiatives in the Philippines—which is an unaddressed gap. So, I wanted to explore further, particularly how M&E can bring transparency and accountability in projects and systems, and on how it can assure achieving intended goals.
I also realized how evaluation can change your mindset and views when there is the risk of failure. It makes you see failures not as an end product, but as part of the learning process as you move forward toward your goals. This leads to the creation of a culture where everyone is contributing to a continuous cycle of learning and mutual growth.
That’s why I got hooked with M&E and how I eventually got involved with the EvalYouth community. I actively joined this community of professionals who are all working together, where everyone is pulling the same weight, toward the same goal.
EvalYouth is important to me as a young professional woman working in evaluation. It enables me to have a platform to speak, share my ideas with colleagues and mentors who are willing to listen, and offer constructive feedback. This part of the EvalYouth culture is very inspiring and motivating to continue growing as a leader.
Which ELC course did you take?
I took Michael Quinn Patton’s course, Facilitating Evaluation. What I found valuable about the course was how the skills he taught aren’t limited to evaluation. They are all transferable to other parts of our work, especially communication—interpersonal interactions, framing information effectively for different audiences, and translating technical language for lay people.
Michael Quinn Patton’s lessons are efficient. We all came into the course with our own questions, issues, and problems that we wanted to solve by attending. He provided a platform for us to raise those issues and integrated all of our questions into his plans throughout the workshop so they became part of the learning process. His teaching style was revolutionary and refreshing. He didn’t “stick to the slides,” but allowed participants to start conversations, and he was well prepared to address all of our queries, while still facilitating the group to stay within the day’s topic of discussion.
At the end of the workshop, I felt that he had literally addressed all of my questions, learned all of the theories and concepts of his course, and saw how they were applied through the manner he held the course.
How has this scholarship supported your work?
It’s really what I’ve talked about above—the transferable skills from the course. I most appreciated the focus beyond technical methodologies, on what I would call a “life skill”: how to help people move into the mode of evaluative thinking, such as monitoring social cues to ensure people are engaged. This skill applies across professions and it is something I am going to integrate in my work in M&E for environmental science and try to pass on to others. It was well worth waking up very early to attend the course from my time zone!
I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I hope more EvalYouth members will have a chance to participate in ELC courses.
An Invitation to Join the ELC Community
The ELC team joins Erika in sharing gratitude for the opportunity to connect with EvalYouth colleagues through this scholarship program. We look forward to welcoming more young and emerging evaluators from around the world to our courses.
To be among the first to hear about ELC courses, scholarships, and other news, please sign up for the ELC mailing list. The next Facilitating Evaluation course is scheduled for mid-2021, and we have many other courses on the calendar between now and then.