Driven by her overflowing passion geared towards the advancement of Catholic education, her numerous affiliations and service in academic and school governance paved her way to foster immense growth in various institutions, including the Holy Cross of Davao College in her continued span of career as an education and as a visionary leader – a mark that recognized her as this year’s Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) Catholic School Heroes Awardee.

Dr. Ma. Iris A. Melliza, an educator, culture and arts promoter, and researcher, is recognized for her outstanding leadership, unwavering determination to advance Catholic education, and important contributions and development to the HCDC community.

A former professor and president of HCDC from 1994-2009 and 2018-2020 has been instrumental in fostering empowerment among different organizations and individuals. Through her profound leadership and compelling visions, her initiatives have positively impacted the lives of other people and become a shining example for others to follow.

Throughout the span of almost fifty-years and counting, in a very distinguished career as an educator, Catholic school administrator, civic leader and church collaborator, she has consistently demonstrated an exceptional commitment in inspiring others and have touched the lives of countless people.

One of her most notable awards she received was the 2002 Datu Bago Award ‘for being an outstanding educator, a consumer advocate and a champion for women and children.’ The Datu Bago Award is the highest award given by the Davao City Government to its exemplary citizens who have helped in the growth and development of the city in whatever field they excelled in. 

Her leadership style is characterized by a strong belief in empowerment through teamwork and a common vision, which she has successfully applied over the years she has worked with the former Davao Association of Colleges and Schools, first as its Executive Secretary from 1974 to 1977, then as President from 1981 to 1983, as well as from 1996 to 2000.

Dr. Melliza’s impact on the community can be seen through numerous achievements and milestones that have been carved in the hearts of the institutions and organizations that she has been associated with. 

Being one of the people behind the continued milestones of the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS) and Catholic Educational Associations of the Philippines (CEAP), her endeavor resulted in the expansion of DACS to become more engaged in socio-cultural and civic matters by extending the association’s involvement beyond concerns with academics and school administration. She has ably represented the association in government bodies that sought the active participation of the private education sector in social development initiatives.

Because of her selfless service to the Catholic academic community, Dr. Melliza has earned the honor of being the 2023 Catholic School Heroes Awardee from the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). This renowned honor recognizes her outstanding leadership, unwavering determination to advance Catholic education, and important contributions and development to the HCDC community.

The award is a testament of Dr. Melliza’s wholehearted determination and passion to create positive changes and for making a difference is truly inspiring. She truly is an inspiration and an embodiment of being a visionary and a selfless servant-leader.