Just a few years ago, I was just this “small town girl living in a lonely world…” Kidding aside, I was completely an entire different person from the person I am today. Likewise, my hometown is an entirely different world from Manila. I could go on with a long list of how different these two places are, but I’m here to share my story on how I wound up at my current situation or whatever you want to call it.
Looking back, I always heard my friends say “I want to be a/an…” or “I’m going to study in this university taking up…” These statements began to be more frequently inserted in conversations during my junior year, but were the only things I’ve heard people around me talk about during my senior year. I’m not saying that it was a bad thing. But as the Alenna I was back then, I didn’t really care that much about those things. It even became much of an irritation to my ears whenever I would hear someone talk about going to college. The problem is I didn’t have any vision of what career I wanted to pursue. I’m the kind of person who can be so passionate about something and give everything I can to excel in the passion I found. Why is that description of myself relevant? It’s because I wanted to make a basis from something I am passionate about. Guess what I was passionate about at those times? Sports. Journalism. Those two things were the center of my life at those times. I did a lot of cycling and I was writing a lot. By “a lot,” I mean, really a lot. You couldn’t even imagine. There were times when I’d be sleeping in classes just because I woke up too early just to cycle. Most of that school year was spent outside either the classroom or the campus, due to journalism competitions and commitments. So when I was evaluating these, I simply asked myself, “Will you still be so passionate about this after five years?” and I honestly admitted that I simply won’t. So, I ruled those two out.
Finally, the months when the biggest universities opened their doors for high schoolers to take up their admission tests came. Being in the Engineering and Science Education Program class, a handful of my classmates filled up their applications to these prestigious colleges. But for me, I was still undecided. But seeing the excitement of my friends about going to these universities changed my view/s. I was alarmed by how unprepared I am in this situation. Yes, I did want to take every test from every known university, but I didn’t. Why? I asked my father, “Can I take up the examination from…?” And his answer was always a firm no. Even though I told him that I just wanted to try the possibilities. However, he was resilient. I would always get the scolding, “I’ve told you before and I’m now saying this again, I won’t let you study in Manila.” As much as I admire my father, I didn’t understand why he never wanted me to study in Manila. I was kind of a rebel in my own way though.
Defying my father’s words, I sought opportunities. I’ve heard the fuss about the scholarship program a company was offering to students in our hometown before, but I’ve never really given much thought to it till the time when I was so desperate. When the representatives of that company came to my school, I made sure that I’d be able to sign my name up for application. They offered a free ride in college. The thing that convinced me to go through this application process is the universities they chose to bring their beneficiaries to. The two universities were University of the Philippines-Diliman and Mapua Institute of Technology. The first name made me jump right in, but the latter, I didn’t hear much of before. However, there’s a catch, the offer limited the degree I was supposed to take. The choices were mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and naval architecture.
Being the journalist, I researched about these fields right away and evaluated how each would work for me. After long hours of comparison, I decided to choose electrical engineering. Why? It’s because both of those universities excelled in producing electrical engineers. I didn’t want to end up going to a university where I won’t be provided with the best. Call me over the top, but I am really particular about these things. I’ve been told to change my choice, though I was firm. I went under a nerve-racking process of filtering applicants. As I recall now, I can remember that we took about three different kinds of examinations. Moreover, we went on different levels of interviews with the human resource management professionals, the board members, and the president. I’m actually proud of myself right now. As I look back, I was a pretty confident kid. I was so sure that I’d be accepted. How come? I poured my passion in it. I was passionate about leaving my hometown. Back then, I told myself, “I don’t want to end up staying here for the next five years.” That’s why I ended up nailing every exam and each interview.
Having been granted an all-expenses paid scholarship, I just gave an evil smile at home. Finally, I convinced my father to let me study in Manila. He couldn’t say “No.” anymore. And even if he did, I would probably still push through. Even though he was being protective of me, I always thought that letting me expand my area would prepare me for the real life. I can truly say I have no regrets.
As to the scholarship, we were supposed to be sent to the University of the Philippines-Diliman. However, the company failed to obtain a mode of agreement with the university and admissions was already closed since the company contacted them just a few months before the incoming school year was to start. So, we were sent to the second option, Mapua Institute of Technology. Through my friend, Google, I was then well informed about the performance of the university in electrical engineering and I was impressed. I then found my new passion, engineering. I know that it might fade after some time, but I know what fueled my passion for it is my desire for excellence which this university clearly possesses. I was assured that I will then muster up more passion for this eventually. That’s how I ended up being a scholar instead of an iskolar ng bayan or an iska.
In a nutshell, I just want to say that I ended up being here today because I wanted to be here. I went against the will of my father because I believed that I should be doing something out of passion. It’s not about what I am passionate about, but it’s about how and why I am passionate about it.