UOG alumnus receives scholarship in pursuit of Ph.D., aims to sharpen skills amid the emergence of AI
Since Nikko Angelo Capati entered the University of Guam as an 18-year-old freshman, in 2015, he’s been fully engaged in learning, internships and ultimately teaching on campus.
He’s kept himself busy, wasting no time from getting his bachelor’s to his master’s degrees – all from UOG.
The Simon Sanchez High School grad earned his Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration in Literature and a minor in writing, on schedule in 2019. Not long after, he hopped on to a graduate program, receiving his Master of Arts in English in 2021.
From being a learner, he also began teaching.
He worked as a teaching assistant for one of his mentors, English professor Dr. Christopher Schreiner. He helped other students as a tutor for the Division of English and Applied Linguistics (DEAL) Writing Center.
He further worked as a graduate student instructor and taught the entry-level English class EN 110. Once he completed his master’s two years ago, he began as a part-time adjunct instructor at UOG.
After having achieved all these at UOG, Capati is taking off to the next level in his pursuit of a doctoral degree.
With the support of his UOG mentors, he had just earned a $40,000-a-year scholarship for three years, a stipend, and free tuition, to the Ph.D. program at the State University of New York at Albany.
“My primary goal for applying to a Ph.D. program was to find a university that shared the same interests that I have towards critical theory, graphic novels, and cyber studies,” Capati said. “Thankfully, I was able to receive (a teaching) assistantship from the University at Albany that would help me explore my goals as an academic writer.”
Capati said he is thankful for the mentorship from Dr. Schreiner and Dr. Andrea Sant from the Department of English and Applied Linguistics at the UOG College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
“I would not have gotten very far without their patience, guidance, and strong attention to detail,” Capati said.
“The best development all spring was the news of Nikko's ‘full ride’ to the Ph.D. program in English at SUNY Albany. He was my MA thesis student and (teaching assistant) for several years, and I am very proud of him,” wrote Dr. Schreider, sharing the news with colleagues in the UOG community.
CLASS Dean James Sellmann vouches for Capati’s work ethic.
“Nikko was always on task. He was very polite, generous, and conscientious. He was a great graduate student instructor,” according to Dr. Sellmann.
Describing himself as a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, from a family that values higher education, Capati also credits his upbringing at home for his success.
“My family inspired me to be hardworking and to pursue my passions,” he said.
Capati hasn’t doubted his goal to become an academic writer even when the emergence of Artificial Intelligence has cast a cloud on the job prospects of human writers.
He believes human writers who continue to evolve will stand the test of AI.
“For students who are remotely interested in graduate school, please pursue your curiosity,” according to Capati, adding later:
“The rise of Artificial Intelligence puts writers at risk. So please go to grad school and create something new based on your experience – otherwise, every written work will be curated by an algorithm.”
Capati embraces the concept of what he calls “othering.” That means he’s often thinking of other things he could do or learn instead of staying in a safe bubble of familiar habits.
“Rather than staying complacent within a comfortable bubble of sameness or familiarity, experiencing conflict, differences, and failure, is essential to self-growth. If I were to stay within my safe bubble, I would never develop as a person,” he adds.
He looks to the resources around him for support when he needed it – particularly when he was developing his pitch for his aspirational Ph.D. program.
“Find a support group that will gladly read your application letters, and offer words of inspiration, especially when the imposter syndrome hits. I recommend going to the University of Guam's amazing and hardworking DEAL Writing Center.”