How not graduating on time helped shaped careers
By Patricia May P. Catan, with Christian Jay B. Quilo
BREAKING norms and disproving society’s standards when it comes to education are these four ladies who despite graduating later than expected are excelling in their chosen careers — proof that the years you’ve spent in college is not a detriment to your future. After all, graduation was never a race in the first place.
Zelina Rae Danao
Life took an unexpected turn when Zelina, who “had planned her life out since high school,” had to temporarily stop her studies in Media Communication due to financial problems. But she did not let this stumbling block hinder her from continuing with her life. “I saw it as an opportunity to get a head start on work experience.” She worked as a tech support specialist for a BPO company for a while before going back to school and finishing her degree.
During that challenging time, she made a vision board as constant motivation. “Having it around my room subconsciously reminded me to just keep pushing, keep moving forward.” She is also grateful that she had such a strong support system throughout her journey. “I don’t think I would have been able to make it on my own, really. I have the most supportive family and friends. They are the people who always remind me of how strong I am and they kept me going during those tough times.”
Right after graduation — literally a day after — she was hired by ePerformax Contact Center and BPO, which she has been with for three years now. After a promotion last year, she was relocated to Manila as a management trainer.
Julieanne Dee Langcauon
Julieanne, or “Julies” as she is fondly called, initially took up Nursing in college. However, two years into the course, she had a realization. “I just didn’t have the heart for my first course. I took it up out of pressure.” Shifting was a daunting decision to make, telling her parents was just the first of many challenges she would encounter. “Seeing the disappointed look on my parents’ faces. Days after I told them about my decision, I just couldn’t look them in the eye.”
Determined more than ever, she gave everything for her degree in Corporate Communication. “I dedicated all my time and effort to my new course. This kept me positively busy.” Being a “shiftee” was not easy but she persevered through her erratic schedule — class in the morning, hours of internship in between and then back to school later in the day for another class. “Every day was a constant struggle,” she recalls.
The hard work she put in did not go unrewarded because in 2014, Julies didn’t just receive her diploma; she also garnered several awards and recognition. Her parents, who were there to witness the momentous occasion, couldn’t be prouder of their daughter. Needless to say, the looks on their faces were a complete 360 from that fateful day Julies told them about her life-changing decision.
Currently, she works for the biggest mall chain in the country as a marketing officer.
Michiko Nina Gandionco
Content Manager, Ghostwriter and Green Consultant
It was one emotional ride for Michiko who couldn’t graduate as expected. Unfortunate circumstances such as transferring schools that led to changing courses and getting behind in pre-requisite classes ultimately became the cause of the delay that left her to feel terrible, angry and disappointed altogether. The pressure brought about by society’s expectations and her own family especially didn’t help. “It was bad enough that I felt horrible about not living up to the expectations set out for me, but it felt worse not getting the emotional support I needed.” She then took 2 years off to get her brain together and go to work, and she was lucky enough to find a boss who didn’t care about diplomas but instead saw her potential and skills.
She kept herself busy by working, painting and volunteering to stop herself from feeling useless. “I found different things that I wanted to do. I eventually wound up learning about zero waste and getting really interested in waste management and sustainability.” Now with her newfound discovery and passion, she went back to school and finally graduated in October 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, Major in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management.
According to her, it felt like a weight was lifted off when she received her diploma. But seeing the proud faces of her parents, she instantly understood why they pressured her. “Every parent just wants their kid to succeed, no matter how they define that.” Indeed, she continues to succeed in life working as a content manager, ghostwriter and green consultant while helping a few small businesses with their waste management.
The life of an international student is no easy feat and for someone like Helen who can barely speak and write in English, this greatly affected her grades. The language barrier posed as a great challenge aside from being apart from her mother and fitting in a new culture and society. Although choosing the job opportunity she had waiting for her in the Korean Consulate over graduating on time, she still questioned herself if she made the right decision. “I was honestly anxious at first and worried that I’ve disappointed my family but at the same time, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”
She found comfort in hearing pieces of advice from her mother and professors, which encouraged her to pursue her career and found relief when they told her that she can graduate anytime. “I learned that when you feel lost and unsure it is best to ask people around you, especially the wiser and older ones who might have been in the same situation.” She worked for the Cebu-Korean community in her third year in college and had to juggle both her work and studies.
After spending a total of six years in college, she finally earned her diploma in Mass Communication on March 2017. “I thought my graduation day would never come.” With the help and encouragement of the family and friends, she felt truly grateful. The feeling of accomplishment is beyond limits as she now teaches English in Korea, a complete turnaround for someone who was struggling with the language at first.