Humans of UD: Lydianne Juguilon

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Photo by Peter Burleigh

Year: Senior

Major: Biology

Hometown: Greater Houston, Texas

“I’ve never seen anyone smile as much as Lydianne does,” Colin Lancaster, Managing Editor for The University News, told our journalism group, with a smile on his own face as he said it.

‘But don’t let her sweet nature and big smile fool you. Juguilon is a force to be reckoned with. Her focus on public health is something that is already making change for the better on our campus

As Juguilon begins her senior year, she is considering a career in the medical field, and will hopefully attend medical school or become a public health official.

Even before quarantine began, Juguilon was already working with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s student program, Food as Medicine. “Our goal . . . is to help low-income families, with a lack of access to fresh and nutritious foods, by providing easily digestible nutrition education,” Juguilon wrote.

In addition to helping others eat well, Juguilon herself is a “foodie at heart.” 

“Since Houston is a cultural hub for foodies, I enjoy trying authentic cuisines and learning about the food’s historical significance in that culture,” Juguilon wrote.

While Juguilon enjoys the food Houston has to offer, she found a way to give back to her city 

With her experience of sewing surgical head caps for medical friends and acquaintances, Juguilon took her expertise to her general community when COVID-19 hit in March. 

“I felt so paralyzed,” Juguilon admitted. “None of us wanted to wear masks. This is just unheard of. If you asked us a year ago that we were going to wear masks, we probably would have had an abrasive reaction to it. And that’s completely fine and I totally understand that . . . A year ago it would have been so weird.”

But when Juguilon saw others making handmade masks, she jumped on the opportunity. “I just wanted to help out. Period.”

Juguilon began sewing masks for garbage disposal workers and postal workers in her area, “just because they’re part of my community.”

Over quarantine, Juguilon expanded her project online, and began selling masks to her family, friends and Instagram followers, including many high school and University of Dallas classmates.

Juguilon produced hundreds of masks with some initial guidance from her mother. They used Juguilon’s mother’s old sewing machine — the same one that she had used to sew her scrubs and uniform when she first emigrated to America from Nueva Ecijia, Philippines. 

Juguilon cited her mother as one of her inspirations. As a breast cancer nurse, Juguilon’s mother works with high-risk patients. “Seeing the way that she’s helping out the community just really inspired me to just try to do something,” Juguilon said.

“It was a really good bonding experience for my mom and I.” 

Juguilon designed her masks according to the recommendations of health officials: “Washable, 3 breathable layers, Steam-Pressed.” Undoubtedly, this added to the project’s difficulty. “There are so many steps to it,” Juguilon explained. “Managing it was a little bit difficult at times.”

“There were definitely sleepless nights but it was definitely worth it,” she said. “At the end of the day the end goal was to help protect, to ensure safety protocols.”

“It’s really to promote and advocate, ‘let’s wear masks,’” Juguilon emphasized.

“The very act of wearing a mask is empowering because this is the one tangible thing that we can do as individuals to fight off against COVID,” Juguilon said. “UD students are all about independent thinking, and now we finally have this independent and individual way to say, ‘I care about my fellow man.’”

As Juguilon’s project gained momentum, she found the enthusiastic response humbling. “The immense amount of support was happily surprising to me,” she said. The UD community contributed to that receptivity; about half of Juguilon’s orders were from UD, and professors sent words of encouragement.“It made it so much more rewarding and really solidified the reason why I did it,” she said.  “I didn’t want to add to the noise or force an agenda on my social media. Instead, I wanted to be a resource for friends and family to [receive] face masks.”

During school, Juguilon has put a hold on her project but is considering making more masks over breaks. “It really depends if people want it,” Juguilon explained.

Juguilon was also careful to clarify: “It’s not about the money. If I was in it for the money, it wouldn’t be as cheap as it was.”

“Sure there were customers, but first and foremost they’re just friends or acquaintances or family members!” Juguilon explained.  “It really wasn’t a business.”

“It was an extension of friendship, saying, ‘I’m here, I’m for you, I’m your friend, I hope and wish you the best and I’m so happy and honored to make this mask.’”

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