I used to be a DOST scholar in *TUP Manila but somewhere along the way, I lost my appetite for learning. Different issues in my family bothered me so much including the pain of knowing my sister was suffering from different complications from cerebral palsy. In 2006, I lost my scholarship and my motivation to pursue Electronics and Communications Engineering. I dropped out of TUP with no clear goals in life. I just left my dreams out there. I was the eldest in 5 siblings and I, at the age of 19, was already feeling the weight of my role in the family. It was a tough decision to make, but I chose finding a work to support my family over finding resources to support my education. I knew I couldn’t do both at the same time. I thought I won’t be able to focus in my studies anyway knowing that my family is starving.

So, I found a job at a BPO call center as a customer service agent in 2007 and I thought college was way past me. Years passed and in 2012, when I was already working as an IT Helpdesk agent, my officemate approached me and encouraged me to send an application to UPOU to pursue a college degree. My friend explained to me how UPOU works and how it is the university for us working people who barely have the time to pursue a college degree in a traditional school setting.

It was encouraging to hear. But it took me a while and some courage to finally decide to do it. Eventually, I realized that it’s about time for me to pursue my education, to fulfill my dreams, to focus on myself as everything seems to be going fine already. My sister (second eldest) already graduated with a Nursing degree with my support. My younger brother was about to graduate in college as well and my youngest sister was already in high school. My sister who was previously sick is already an angel in heaven. My parents, on the other hand, are back together. I also met the man of my life who I eventually married, and he was in full support of my decision. In 2013, I sent my application to take the Undergraduate Admission Test in UPOU. I got admitted and finally, in 2014, I was a student again.

My first year was tough. I had a poor Internet service and a crappy Acer notebook (mini-laptop) then and I thought that was enough for me to survive at least the first year of BAMS. There were days of crying out of frustration because I couldn’t complete an online exam without having to press F5 every time I move to the next test item.  It was so annoying and stressful already that it was such a relief when my husband bought me a laptop out of his company bonus.

The adjustment was real given that my job was not a normal 8am-5pm schedule. I work in graveyard shifts which adds to the stress if I couldn’t manage my time well. My normal routine would include a sleeping time of 4 to 5 hours during daytime while the other 3 or so hours are spent on readings, discussion forums, blogs, etc. It is tough to be working at night and studying in the morning on your own because even if you have the willingness to study, your brain and body slows you down. You feel sluggish and sleepy and your comprehension becomes slower too! Which you have no control of since it’s just a normal response of your body when you didn’t sleep the whole night. The sad thing is even if I have been doing this job for 10 years now, my body won’t get used to it.  Coffee became my best friend though at my age of 32, it’s slowly betraying me too (but that’s another story to tell). 🙂

The road to Sablay is not an easy one and never will be, that’s for sure. Actually, there is no easy road in life at all! There will always be obstacles and hurdles to meet. Life’s journey will always be bumpy. But isn’t that what makes it more precious – overcoming challenges in life with your dignity still intact? Even to this day, it’s hard juggling three priorities at the same time – my job, my studies and my responsibilities at home – but it’s a challenge I am so willing to take every time.

There is something about wanting to achieve a goal that keeps you going every time, probably it’s the fulfillment you get from it, something that was not clear to me back in 2006. It is 2018 now and I am packed with plans and goals and skills I didn’t know I could have before UPOU. If everything falls into place and according to my plan of study, 2019 is my year of graduation. And this, this idea gets me pumped and excited every time. It’s what keeps me going in UPOU.

For the 4 years that passed and the year to come, this is my life in UPOU. And for that, I am thankful for the opportunity to study online at the comfort of our homes, the cafes, libraries, and wherever places we chose to study, for the opportunity to learn with the same quality and excellence provided to traditional UP setting, for the professors who facilitates us in learning in the same extent as a traditional professor would be and lastly, for the second chance to fulfill my dream and to finish what I started- my college degree.


*Technological University of the Philippines, Manila