Commencement speech addressed to JGSOM and SOSE graduates of Ateneo de Manila University on May 25, 2018 (downloadable PDF)
Welcome to my little corner of the internet
Roselle Ambubuyog graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2001 from the Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Schools, as Class Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a minor in Actuarial Science. Despite being totally blind since the age of six, she consistently attained the highest academic honors, also graduating at the top of her class from the Holy Infant Montessori Center (1986), Batino Elementary School (1993), and Ramon Magsaysay High School—Manila (1997). From grade school through college, she was mainstreamed in regular classes with sighted students.
Roselle received all awards possible for a graduating Atenean: the Ateneo President’s award as Valedictorian of Class 2001, the Ateneo Vice-President’s Most Outstanding Individual award for service and excellence, the St. Ignatius award for Outstanding Scholar, and the Departmental/Program Award for Mathematics.
Outside the university, she received several accolades including:
- The Special award of Recognition from the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) executive committee
- The BPI Science award from the BPI Foundation
- The Most Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student from the Knights of Rizal Supreme Council
- The Huwarang Pilipino award from the Radio ng Bayan executive committee
- The Gawad Sentenaryo “Kabataang Makasaysayan” award from the National Centennial Commission
- The Galing Pilipino citation from the Galing Pilipino Movement
- The National Maagap Award (Youth Sector) from the Organized Response to the Advancement of Society
- The Heroes Award from Anak TV Foundation
- The Outstanding Youth Leaders Award from the United Nations Association of the Philippines
- The Everyday Heroes award from Reader’s Digest Asia (in 1999 and again in 2004)
A trailblazer in several ways, Roselle is not only the first blind Ateneo graduate, but also the first in the Philippines to use various speech-and-Braille portable computers in her studies. Moreover, she is the first vision-impaired Filipino to become proficient in the use of the Cranmer abacus for the blind, as well as the Korean Finger Math technique called Chisanbop, utilizing such skills to win interscholastic competitions against sighted students.
Immediately after graduation, Roselle set up a project with the help of the Makati-Ayala Rotary Club, which donated special software, desktop computers, scanners and Braille printers to schools that have a mainstream education program for the blind.
Further, she has assisted Resources for the Blind in projects that teach new technologies and techniques to blind students and job seekers as well as to their parents, teachers and employers.
Roselle is presently an access technology consultant working remotely from the Philippines for different software and hardware companies in Europe and North America. She provides design specifications for new and existing technologies that enable the blind, partially sighted and people with learning disabilities to use regular computers and mobile devices. She also coordinates multinational teams of engineers and testers as well as distributors and customers in more than 50 countries.
She first worked for Freedom Scientific, L.L.C., a company based in Florida, USA and the leading developer of assistive technology for people with vision impairment. Roselle began her career by designing a system for writing and reading mathematical and scientific notation on Windows®-based PCs using 3-D digital audio and Braille displays.
Afterwards with Code Factory (Barcelona, Spain), she shared her expertise to develop the first Windows Mobile® screen reader for touch-screen smartphones and PDAs which converted displayed content into synthesized speech, magnified text, and Braille output. During her tenure as Product Manager, the company also garnered recognition for their groundbreaking multi-platform mobile software releases, including the AFB Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind.
Working initially with products from Optelec International, B.V. (Barendrecht, The Netherlands), Roselle defined the Braille interface of accessibility software for the Symbian® OS and Windows Mobile® platforms, enabling even the deaf-blind to use popular smartphones.
In collaboration with the Sendero Group, L.L.C. (California, USA), she also guided an international team of sighted programmers to develop a talking GPS navigation solution for blind pedestrians, which won the International CES Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Award in 2009.
Motivated by the need to make access technology universally affordable, Roselle helped Serotek Corporation (Minnesota, USA) to introduce in the Philippines the low-cost screen reading software for Windows® called System Access, a free internet-based version of which is now available worldwide and promoted especially to blind computer users in developing countries.
Over the years, different companies and personalities have recognized Roselle’s inspiring achievement. She was part of the Microsoft Philippines Office Icons campaign, a project which pools together a group of individuals who have made their mark in their respective fields, inspired others to do better, and successfully integrated technology as a vital part of their lifestyle.
In 2015, she was one of the Pinay in Action (PIA) awardees of Sen. Pia Cayetano, and was included in the ‘Empowered Women: Raising the Bar’ exhibit held at the Philippine Senate, which recognized outstanding women who have made valuable contributions in different areas of society.
Her story has been further featured in books ranging from textbooks in Social Studies or Inclusive Education, to inspirational books like the Kids’ Choice Award winner of the 2016 National Children’s Book Awards — ‘Made Perfect in Weakness’ by Dr. Didith T. Rodrigo. Also, on March 30, 2017, Google Philippines posted about her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as part of #LovePhilippines, a year-long social media campaign to showcase interesting tidbits about the country, its culture and people.
Within her home community, she continues to be a source of inspiration. Raised a Roman Catholic, Roselle has served in the Lectors and Commentators Group of Christ the King Parish in North Caloocan since the age of twelve, reading the Holy Scriptures in Braille.
A motivational speaker since 1998 and one of the first members of the Asian Center for Trainers and Speakers (under Salt and Light Ventures, Inc.), Roselle has given talks on various topics including personal development, overcoming challenges, achieving excellence, and individual leadership. Her audiences consist of professionals in different fields, employees of multinational corporations and local businesses, students of all ages, and the disabled and non-disabled alike.
Note:The preceding text serves as an overview of Roselle Ambubuyog's achievements and can be used in part or as a whole by anyone who requires her profile for an introductory piece at speaking engagements and talk shows she will guest on, for articles that will feature or mention her, for multimedia materials used during events to which she will be invited, and other similar purposes.