MINT: College with a difference
- JVM Francisco () - February 20, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There’s a new kid on the school block, and it’s no ordinary kid. It comes with a daring, innovative concept of college education.

MINT, the catchy acronym for Meridian International, is a business, arts and technology college. One would immediately think that combining these three areas of education is like mixing soda, coffee and juice in one drink, but if you come to know the background of its founder, president and CEO Baltazar Endriga, you wouldn’t be as surprised. In fact you’ll totally agree with him when he starts passionately telling you how this educational concept came to be.

Edriga came exactly from a business, arts and technology background. He graduated magna cum laude in Accountancy from the University of the East and went on to become a Johnson Foundation Scholar and Peter Deuticke Fellow at the Harvard Business School where he obtained his MBA. His professional career is as impressive. After business school, he joined the renowned accountancy and management consultancy firm SGV and subsequently became a partner. He moved on to become the managing director of Andersen Consulting Philippines, a multinational business and IT company. In 1995, he was named president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and later became its chairman. In 2003, he was appointed Dean of the College of Business Administration of his alma mater, the University of the East, and subsequently was promoted as UE president. This background in business, technology, arts and education naturally became instrumental in the establishment of MINT.

“We believe that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. We are offering a new paradigm in tertiary education. MINT’s educational system is designed to expose our students to diverse fields of endeavor – with academic programs that integrate tracts in three key fields: business, arts and technology.” Endriga explains.

“We will produce graduates who are certain of their career paths, equipped with multi-faceted expertise in technology, the humanities and business. They will be creative, original, development-oriented and capable of tackling diverse issues or problems,” he adds.

Following this educational philosophy, MINT was inaugurated in December 2010 in simple ceremonies held at its 1,315 square meter modern campus at the 2nd floor of the Commerce and Industry Plaza building in McKinley Hill in Taguig City. To emphasize MINT’s innovative approach to education, its campus facilities have been designed and constructed in a very contemporary manner with graphic-designed walls, sleek glass doors, irregularly shaped chairs and technology-infused classrooms.

Formal classes for its ten four-year Bachelor’s degrees will begin this June. These include six courses under the Business Department namely Entrepreneurial Management, Marketing, Finance and Commerce, Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, Film and Communications and Music Business Management.

MINT’s Arts Department will offer two specialized courses – Applied Arts and New Media, and Theater Arts and Communications. Under the Technology Department, there will be two courses – Information Technology and Computer Science. Each of these undergraduate programs will expose the student to the most relevant disciplines in commerce, computer technology and the creative industry.

In many ways, MINT’s approach to education is quite progressive, utilizing a whole range of learning methods that include online courses which take advantage of multimedia and information technology. To make this operational, MINT has partnered with SW!TCH and put up the first Apple Experiencenter for Education in the campus, providing access to the latest Apple technology. Students can use MINT’s iPads as their notebooks, sketchpads and their own personal library.

The other unique facet of MINT’s approach to education is its focus on practical application of learning. “Our method of education will equip students with applied industry best practices by exposing them to real professional work as early as their first year in college. Actual projects can be produced in school in partnership with other organizations. This method ensures a smooth and seamless transition into the real world,” Endriga explains.

MINT’s choice of partner organizations clearly emphasizes this approach. They include the Canadian Institute of Business Technology Education Group for its student exchange program; IndieEAST, a San Francisco based independent film cooperative; Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. for its IT courses; Studio Z for its audio programs; and the PSE Market Education Department for business and entrepreneurial programs.

MINT aims to be a frontrunner in its advocacy for environmental awareness through a unique ecological subject included in each course. Along this line, it will also practice a minimal-paper community and energy conservation program in the campus. This important component of MINT will be headed by Peter Abaya, an expert in environmental issues who completed a post-graduate program in Climate Change and Development at Harvard University. He will also be the Contributing Adviser to the course on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development.

The other members of Endriga’s team are an accomplished group of businessmen, managers, artists and entrepreneurs. Eugene Villaluz, a noted singer and music business executive and producer, and Paulo Zarate, multi-awarded producer and arranger, co-head the Music Business Management course. The Film and Communication Program is headed by Benito Bautista, a noted independent filmmaker, writer and producer. Multi-media expert and eminent journalist Leo Magno takes charge of the New Media Arts Program and Ben Loo, an entrepreneur and IT expert, heads the Information Technology course. The Entrepreneurial Management Program is headed by Lordegil Santos Fernandez, an accomplished entrepreneur.

Endriga is proud of MINT’s thrust towards corporate social responsibility. “We stress our commitment to provide equal opportunity to all meritorious students regardless of sex, religion or economic status. We will do this through our policy that at least 20 percent of our total student population will receive scholarships,” he says.

In our rapidly changing world where the knowledge economy and the creative industry are becoming more crucial to progress and economic development, the Meridian International College seems to be on the right track, with a team of visionaries poised to set a new standard in tertiary education.

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