Quizzes, exams, recitations, project, assignment, research papers, plus extracurricular activities. These are the school activities that irritates us the most especially when our schedules does not anymore meet what school requires us to do. What we don’t realize is that, while we’re busy stressing ourselves with concerns related to such activities to the point that we’re losing our appetite towards learning, others are jealous for us having the opportunity to go to school every day with everything’s already in places. Just like Fernando.
Fernando D. Guatato Jr., often called as “Fer” by his friends, is a childhood friend of mine and we’ve got a lot of “first’s” to share. He is my first love, first boyfriend, and also my first heartbreak. Why did we break up? Not that we don’t love each other then. It’s just that we we’re so young and reckless that time and I think we just made the right decision – decision to be friends and stay friends, just like what we were before our love story. But this story is not about us.
If there’s one thing that we should admire about him is that it’s his passion to help his parents and perseverance to finish his studies despite of their status in life. Unlike most of us, Fer’s concern isn’t only about the subjects he needs to pass. Unlike most of us, Fer got not much time to spare to his family and friends. Unlike most of us, Fer got no one to support his studies. Fer needs to work as a student assistant for him to be able to send himself to college and support his financial needs.
“Tatlo kaming magkakapatid. Ako ‘yung bunso. Lahat may asawa na. Kaya ako naging SA kasi wala ng magpa-paaral sakin. Syempre ‘yung mga kapatid ko may sarili ng pamilyang binubuhay. ‘Yung tatay at nanay ko naman walang trabaho pareho kase hindi naman sila nakatapos tsaka medyo may katandaan na rin. Wala akong ibang aasahan kundi sarili ko na lang talaga.“
Fernando is currently taking up a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BA) major in Business Management. He is now on his senior year and having just months away from graduation, he couldn’t help himself but to reminisce towards his journey being a college student wherein in order to support his studies, he applied for the University’s Working Scholars Program when he was in his first year second semester here at University of the East Caloocan Campus.
“Under the program, qualified students shall render service in Departments of the University where their services are needed provided the functions to be performed are related to the course being pursued/undertaken by the students. Aside from the opportunity to put in practice what they learn in the classrooms and to get a “feel” of the world of work, Student Assistants shall receive for the duration of their participation in the program a monthly allowance of six hundred pesos (P 600.00) for four (4) hours continuous work per day.” (Know more about the University’s Working Scholars Program here.)
For most of us given the chance to study in a well-known university, why would we not, right? But for him, he chose UE not just because of the quality of education that it provides but also because of the fact that the university offers a lot of scholarship opportunity for financially underprivileged but intellectually capable students to pursue their tertiary education such as the University’s Working Scholars Program so it’s really a bonus package considering that he will be able to access quality education for free.
While there are many privileged ones, there are also a lot of those who aren’t. There are a lot of aspiring individuals that aren’t given a chance or even to say “no” to studying for poverty already dictates what their answers should be. Poverty is the main reason why most drawings of children are colorless for they’ve got no crayons to color it in the first place. Meaning, they’ve got no means to make their dreams come true – to pursue what they want and to raise their status from poverty.
But this isn’t always the case. Just like how the old saying goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” And for Fer, the way through his dream is to juggle work and study. “Nag-apply ako ‘nung November 2013. It’s a week-long application process. The result will be released 3 days after you took the written and oral examination. Pabalik-balik ako sa UE Manila… talagang parang nag-aapply kami para sa trabaho. Fortunately, nakapasa ako tapos pinatawag na ako dito sa UE Caloocan for orientation.”
However, one of the characteristics a student assistant should possess is the ability to manage time properly wherein he got a hard time mastering the skill. “’Nung una, medyo mahirap kasi nakakapagod. Halos buong araw kang nasa school.” And when he finally does, he realize that it isn’t really all about giving equal time to everything but by learning how to prioritize things in accordance with its importance. “Ngayon medyo okay na… Sanay na ako. Kaya na. Kaso nga lang ‘yung oras mo para makipag-bonding sa mga kaibigan, ‘yun yung dapat mong isakripisyo kasi kapalit ‘nun ‘yung scholarship mo. Kumbaga after class, time mo na lang sa work ang matitira.”
After all, what we really want is for us to return the favor to our ever-loving and ever-supportive parents. It is indeed that their happiness is our happiness and compared to what they’ve done for us, what is it to at least give them good grades. We have no idea how proud they we’re to their amigos and amigas whenever we got no failing grade, what more if we are able to maintain our scholarship? Even if it costs us sacrificing some of the perks of being a student, we can’t say “no” to them.
“Masarap sa pakiramdam na nakakatulong ako sakanila. Masaya kaso nakakapagod rin minsan. Kasi ‘di ba? Minsan na nga lang tayo magco-college pero ‘yung college ko ‘di ko ma-enjoy kasi nga work then aral then work… But I’m sure na worth it naman ‘to kasi lahat naman ng nagsusumikap, bandang huli umaasenso. After ng hirap, ginhawa di ba?”
They say education is not a right. That it is a privilege. Therefore, instead of complaining how many your assignments are, how hard your exam was, and even how rude your professor is for asking you a question you have no idea what the answer is in front of your classmate crush, be thankful. Compare to others, the solution to your problems is already provided. But for some, they will have to work on with the means before they even get there. Good thing scholarships are there, waiting for us to grab it and truly, there is an assistance in being an assistant.
About the Author
Fernandez, Girlie Anne D.
She is just a simple Communication Major student who loves to eat while studying. Being an only child, she treats her dogs as her siblings. She is a consistent achiever, is never contented, and always asks for more. She likes competition and her insecurities motivate her. She loves the idea of being in love and believes that nobody is perfect until you fall in love with them.