Updated: Jun 25, 2020
| This is the 410th story of Our Life Logs |
I was born in 1994 in Lucena, a city situated in the province of Quezon, Philippines. I am one of seven children, though one of my older sisters died when she was one year old, so growing up, there were only six of us. My family was poor, but despite our losses and our circumstances, we were happy.
In school, I was what some would call an overachiever. I was the valedictorian and spent much of my free time in a special journalism program. Because of my great love for learning and education, I seemed to always get the suggestion, “Why don’t you become a teacher?”
I’d smile and politely decline, all while I screamed “NO!” in my head. It wasn’t that I hated teachers. I just didn’t think I was capable of such an intense profession. It required a lot of skills and patience that I just didn’t think I had—that I would never have. I liked school but not like that, or so I thought.
I was so focused on thriving in high school that when it came to college, I didn’t have any concrete plans. Plus, with all the expenses required to go, I feared that even if I did go, I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay. My eldest sibling had failed to complete college due to a lack of funds and I feared I would face the same fate.
Despite my fears, I applied to colleges and because of my high academics, I got accepted into my dream school! I had wanted to enroll in the communications program but since I had responded so last minute, there were no slots left. The only remaining slot was for public administration, so I enrolled because I wanted so badly to go to college. I was thrilled—until I saw the tuition fees. I didn’t think there was any way I could afford it, not before classes began.
Days passed and the first day drew nearer. My grandpa had covered my enrollment fees by giving me a 1,000-peso bill and a supportive smile, but tuition was all on me. I started to panic. I worked a part-time summer job but I could only afford a measly school bag with my savings. Then, I received incredible news.
My Senior Advisor reached out to tell me that the guest speakers from my high school graduation ceremony had offered me a full scholarship. I would be given full tuition and an allowance every semester as long as I took the required courses they had listed—basically, I had to become a student in one of the programs of their choice. They chose agriculture for me. This was far off from the communications route I had wanted to take, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Maybe communications really wasn’t for me, I told myself. Maybe this would work out for the better.
I prepared for all the requirements as an agriculture student, but after not being on any of my professors’ master lists, I discovered that my advisor had enrolled me in environmental science courses by mistake. To cut a long story short, I became an environmental science student as this was the most efficient remedy if I wanted to start classes on time.
Now, I thought science was my weakest subject, but what could I do but go with the flow? I needed to stay in one of the required programs to keep my scholarship. I jumped head-first into environmental science, determined to thrive in whatever life threw at me.
All that hard work paid off, and I graduated cum laude with the highest weighted average in my department. But graduation brought a new challenge that many fear—finding a job with your degree. I printed dozens of copies of my resume and went searching. I was so determined that I ate snacks while I walked from place to place to conserve time.
I received a lot of rejections at first—I wasn’t qualified enough, there was no vacant position, I didn’t have a connection in the company, you name it. My friends and peers kept suggesting I become a teacher, but l insisted against it, believing it wasn’t the right path for me. Eventually, I landed a job in a department store as a Customer Service Representative. It wasn’t my ideal job and not related to my career at all, but for the time being, I didn’t care. I just wanted to help my family. The job wound up having a fun work environment and was very helpful. I learned how to deal with all kinds of people and learned to be patient no matter what people said.
Five months later, I received a job offer from the Human Resources Department of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office. I was torn. Should I keep my job with a positive environment or grab the chance to work in my field? I chose the latter, of course. I wanted to make use of my degree!
And so, I began working for the government as an Extension Officer. I handled projects and documentation reports for the National Greening Program. I worked diligently for the government for two years. Unfortunately, I was a contractual employee so I never received benefits. The instability of the job made me nervous, and I felt lost in my career. I enjoyed the work, but it still didn’t feel like my purpose. My contract was to be renewed in December 2017, but I decided to end it instead and keep searching.
At the start of the new year, I printed more copies of my resumes and began another persistent search for greater opportunities. Much like before, I struggled. I had no sense of direction until one woman’s suggestion shifted how I viewed my future.
I was interviewing in the Department of Education for an administrative assistant position. When the woman from Human Resources looked at my resume, she wore a puzzled look. “Why are you applying for a job like this when you could be using all your environmental science knowledge as a teacher?”
There it was; the teacher suggestion once again. However, I didn’t shut it down right away. I thought, maybe I should give it a try. But as it goes, I let my doubt get in the way and continued the job search, jaded and unsure of myself.
Weeks and months passed by with no luck on the job front. Then one day, I stumbled upon a Facebook group looking for teachers for their training center. I thought back to what the woman in the Department of Education said and the way she looked at me that day, so sure of my potential. All of it stuck with me. I decided it was time to stop ruling out being a teacher and give it a try.