The Guidon

Celebrating 100 Years of Norwich University Student News

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The Guidon

The Guidon: unmasked


Few students can say they have truly changed Norwich in a way that will outlast their graduation, and even fewer can be confident that their impact on the school was a beneficial one.

Aira Manampan, referred to by both the pronouns she/her and they/them, 21, a senior cadet psychology major from Belleville, New Jersey, is one of those few who will be remembered.

“Aira is a testament of triumph and resilience over struggle, most of which others do not see,” Nyles Wiggens, 22, a cadet double major in criminology and criminal justice from Townsend, Delaware, said in an email.

“For everything that happens in her life, she remains steadfast, dedicated to her morals and outgoing personality… It is honestly inspiring.”

In observing the comings and goings at Norwich, the shifting tides of students, and the wakes they leave behind, Manampan remains one name — one student — who stands out as an inspiration and ideal for the Norwich spirit.

A first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, Manampan developed a knack for perseverance against odds. At Norwich, she proved critical in helping to revive The Guidon and quickly mastered the snare (and later, timpani) for the Norwich Band and rose to percussion section leader. And now, on the eve of her graduation, she bids an inspiring farewell to the school which was her home and family during these last four years.

The addition of Manampan to The Guidon crew was as unexpected as it was beneficial. It started in 2022 when she met The Guidon advisor, Shane Graber, while trying to get some of her artwork posted.

“I didn’t even know The Guidon existed freshman and sophomore years,” Manapman said.

On an impulse, she offered to join the growing crew as a cartoonist and was quickly promoted to Editor-in-Chief.

“Even though Aira didn’t have any journalism experience (and probably didn’t want any journalism experience), they were the best choice for the editor because we needed someone who could promote The Guidon, could recruit for The Guidon, and be a good face for The Guidon,” said  Shane Graber, assistant professor of communications and advisor for The Guidon.

“Among her many talents, that’s what they did. In that span of a year, we became a much more recognizable, credible news outlet on campus.”

A lot of journalism isn’t about being able to write, explained Graber. Even a deep understanding of journalistic rules and techniques comes in second to something else, something far more instinctual.

“It is about having an insatiable curiosity, and Aira provided that for the staff,” Graber said. “It was also infectious, and the staff became curious as well.”

While she will be sorely missed, Manampan’s efforts have been instrumental in preparing The Guidon for new leadership.

“I have two co-editors that I am mentoring outside of everything, kind of taking a step back and letting them run the show now,” said Manampan. “It will make an easy transition for when I graduate. So they’re not scared, they’re not jumping right out of the boat, they can dip their feet in the water.”

Before immigrating with her family in the summer of 2007, Aira spent the first five years of her life growing up in the Philippines. The transition to New York proved impactful, even at a young age.

“It was definitely culture-shock,” said Manampan. “Even when I was little, I understood that I was different. This is the new country.”

Her parents, happily married, sought to give her and her younger brother the opportunity to exceed and the pressure to thrive.

“I knew that it was a very big part of my family’s mindset and how they pushed me to be who I am now, and then trying to aim for the best so I could be successful here,” Manampan said. “I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be who I am without my parents making that choice for my brother and me.”

When asked what led her to Norwich and specifically the cadet program, Manampan shared her family heritage with military service.

“Since the 8th grade, I’ve always been involved in military programs, especially Civil Air Patrol. My father introduced me to it while he was researching about the Air Force Academy when I was 13. Because he was part of the military, the national Filipino military back at home, so he wanted me to follow his shoes because he understood the benefits of military life, getting a good job and everything like that. He wanted to emulate that to his first-born kid… but I didn’t want to totally follow that route because I had other goals considerably.”

Manapman’s future looks promising as she hopes to use her TikTok account (@ham_zero) and its follower base to launch her professional artist career, and with more than 240,000 followers and money already coming in, it seems a feasible proposition. However, with a new bill passed in the House of Representatives that could lead to a nationwide ban of TikTok, her plans are thrown into uncertain light.

“I’m kind of nervous because I wanted to utilize that after school to help promote my business,” said Manapman.

Yet she remains optimistic and resolute.

“Eventually, if I play my cards right, I can be a full-time content creator, and I could just make comics for a living and do commissions and sell my art,” said Manampan. “That business side of things I really, really love. And having a remote job just like that, it was my ultimate dream plan.”

For now, however, she plans on getting her feet on the ground after graduation by taking up a job as a Business Account Manager for a marketing and sales company in Northern New Jersey—working primarily with customer/company relations. Training begins just one week after leaving Norwich.

In a concluding statement to all who will come to Norwich after her, Manampan summarizes the many lessons learned along the way of success.

“Read books. Seek out intellectual conversations. Don’t smoke excessively; that just hurts your body. Nurture the relationships that you have a good feeling that will last for a while. It’s gonna take a bit for you to realize the people that really do matter and the people that will really be there. Once you figure that out, don’t let them go. And if you have something that you want to do, go and do it. Do it.”

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