Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

1/01/2006

Student explores the world a step at a time

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

published January 1, 2006

TALL and willowy, Maureen delos Reyes seems no different than any other 3rd year college student. However, her dreamer’s eyes and quiet strength have carried her far.

Maureen’s family has never been very well off, and her father’s unfortunate accident in her 2nd grade worsened their situation. Her father was left paralyzed and forced to move back to his hometown of Batangas. Without income from the family’s lone breadwinner and her mother’s pregnancy, rough times became rougher.

“Sobrang gipit na gipit talaga,” says Maureen of her situation. Her education painstakingly continued but had to be subsidized by her lola’s meager income.

New beginnings

On her 3rd year, she entered the Pathways to Higher Education program offered in her Payatas school. The way forward opened up, but it wasn’t easy.

Maureen says that out of the 50 original participants, only 9 remained.

Pathways to Higher Education is an innovative education program at the Ateneo de manila University that aims to help send academically-gifted buy marginalized public high school students to college. Instead of doles and scholarships, Pathways offers these students academic enrichment classes, supplementary learning and learning resource centers to enable them to study well and earn scholarships to the schools and courses of their choice.

Tutorials and homework in English, Science and Math were offered every Saturday and Sunday apart from her regular school work. By supplementing their education, Pathways equipped its participants to increase their competencies- and so it did for Maureen. “Gustong-gusto kong mag-aral pa at ayaw kong tumigil.”

By her 4th year, Pathways once again helped Maureen apply for colleges at no cost. She was able to apply to the colleges of her choosing and, soon after, entered B.S. Tourism in Centro Escolar University. She happily reports in Pilipino, “I thought that maybe, someday I would be able to continue studying at the college level, but never did I think I’d get to study in a school like CEU.”

College Life

Grateful to have entered CEU, Maureen still acknowledges that life is still lined with challenges. She constantly has to watch her expenses, saving up for the costly school trips her course requires her to attend. She notes, “Ang hirap minsan sa school, madali nilang makalimutan na hindi lahat mayaman.”

She proudly recounts one trip to Corregidor she attended. “Pinag-ipunan ko talaga ‘yun!” She talked to the Tourism head in advance, asking how much the trip cost at the start of their semester and, by saving her allowances for the rest of the semester, she was able to pay the P 1,200 fee.

Once there, she made sure not to waste a single moment on her trip.

“Ako ang unang-unang taong nag-eenjoy. Naglalakad-lakad ako kahit walang kasama…Nilulubos-lubos ko talaga.” While others lie down in surrender, she continues to wander around and explore. Having no camera of her own, she scrupulously borrows and re-copies pictures from her classmates’ cameras.

Her words to others like her? Just three things, “Hindi hadlang ang kahirapan, patuloy kang maniwala na may Diyos at lakasan lang ang iyong loob sa harap ng mga pag-subok.”
Maureen’s journey has never been easy because it is the path that few have taken. It has taken her great courage and determination. But it is not an impossible journey. Where once there was no road, she and other Pathways scholars like her are starting to lead the way for others to follow.

As the Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang once said, “Hope is like a road in the country; there was
never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence."

(Pathways to Higher Education is helping young students like Maureen achieve a brighter future. With your help, more high school and college students will have access to new experiences and opportunities that will make them better individuals and leaders. For more information on Pathways' groundbreaking programs, call 426-6001 locals 4045 to 4049, e-mail to pathways@admu.edu.ph, or log on to www.pathwaysphilippines.org.)

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