"What's your dream?"
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
At some point in our lives, we've been asked these questions. Or at least, something along those lines. Chances are, you've tried answering them–or drawing them. A stickman version of yourself wearing a lab coat, a hard hat, or a magician's hat. A child can dream!
The truth is no two people are the same. Likewise, no two dreams are also alike. Finding and pursuing yours is a personal quest, and often a hard one. Unlike school projects, there is no formula to follow nor a map to show the way you should go. If there were a crash course for that, we would have told you already.
But once in a while, we see a light at the end of the tunnel.
We get clues and signposts leading us to take the next right step. People we trust. Hobbies we enjoy. Role models we admire. Experiences we encounter. Opportunities we take. All of which shape our decisions and, ultimately, our direction in life. As a student, you make small and big decisions every day. But the question is, where is it leading you?
We won't ask you to write a 300-word essay on your life's one true calling. No one has it all figured out, and we don't expect you to. We are all making it along the way, learning from each other at best. But what we can do is talk about them and figure it out together! After all, life is best shared. And there are real people with real stories to share.
We sat down with some students who experience and have experienced the same struggles you're facing. From the million-dollar question of what career path to take, down to the everyday challenges of being a student in a pandemic-stricken world.
Who knows, maybe their stories can lead you to take the next step for your future.
When it comes to pursuing one’s dream, we can learn a thing or two from fashion.
First, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Everyone has a tailor-made dream waiting to be realized. Second, expressing oneself–whether through dressing up or cultivating personal interests–is a no-fail way to get to that dream. Stanly Garcia, or simply Stanly, learned these tips early on in life. Now that he is in his third (and hopefully, final!) year in college, he is fashionably dressed with passion and determination to achieve his goals.
Sharing how fashion plays a big part in his student life, Stanly shares, “When I express myself through fashion, parang mas nakikilala ko yung sarili ko. Matagal na akong mahilig sa fashion pero mas naging engaged ako when I entered college. Kapag pumapasok ako sa Mapúa, kailangan maganda yung damit ko every day! Alam kong parang sobrang opposite ng fashion and engineering kasi very formal yung course but dressing up in class really makes me feel happy, beautiful, and comfortable in my own skin.”
Stanly further shares his go-to outfit every finals week and jokes about his mantra, “Kapag may exam, nag-aayos talaga ako. Para kapag bumagsak, babagsak akong maganda.” No worries here though since he is the type of student who is equally concerned about his grades as he is with his looks. Priorities, check!
As part of the LGBTQ+ community, Stanly takes pride in being true to himself. And it has certainly influenced the way he picks his outfit every school day and more so how he decides for the more important stuff like his course, career path, and goals in life. We have a gut feeling you can learn more than a thing or two from Stanly about these things. Because we surely did.
Learn more about Stanly’s student life, dreams and aspirations in our quick conversation!
Life as a Civil Engineering student
School and course in college
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Mapúa University
Why did you choose your school?
“Kapag sinabi mong ‘engineering’, Mapúa agad ang iniisip ng mga tao kasi maganda yung mga engineering courses nila. Kaya bata pa lang ako, tumatak na kaagad ang Mapúa sa akin! Although I also considered other engineering schools–tinignan ko talaga lahat ng programs nila–pinaka angat yung sa Mapúa because of their credibility.
Marami rin akong mga tito at tita na graduate dun. Sabi nila sa akin, ‘When you graduate sa Mapúa, you will not find a job. The job will find you.’ So na encourage talaga ako! Ngayong graduating na ako, parang totoo naman yung sinabi nila kasi ang ganda ng program at yung training na nakukuha namin because of the quarterm. Yung inaaral namin sa Senior High School dati ng isang buwan, isang araw lang tinuturo sa Mapua.”
Why did you choose your course?
“Growing up, I really wanted to take Civil Engineering because I’m good at math. Bata pa lang ako parang iniisip ko na ‘ah, engineer ako!’ Pero habang lumalaki, I started exploring other options. Civil Engineering talaga yung first choice ko but I also considered other courses like Metallurgical Engineering and BS Statistics in Actuarial Science.
I read articles about those programs pero parang ang daming signs that pointed me to engineering–emails, online posts, pati memes! Tapos kapag may road trip, gustong gusto ko nakakakita ng mga structures. Lagi akong napapatingin sa mga ginagawang establishments and infrastructures. Curious ako sa mga nangyayari behind a beautiful structure so I thought why not pursue it, diba? Nakikita ko talaga yung sarili ko dun.
Nakakatuwa lang din kasi walang influence yung mga magulang ko in my decision to take engineering. They did not dictate me to take a certain course. Nandun lang sila to support and guide me. Kasi ang hirap nun, diba? Yung nag-aaral ka tapos hindi mo gusto ang inaaral mo. For me, sayang sa oras. So I’m proud to say na I came up with my own decision to pursue Civil Engineering and I really enjoy it.”
What are your favorite learnings so far?
“Ang pinaka natutunan ko talaga sa Mapúa ay yung coping mechanism. Grabe yung training namin because we have four terms in a year tapos two weeks lang yung break. So natuto talaga kami to adjust well sa environment!
When people hear na student or graduate sa Mapúa, parang expected na nila na ‘magaling ‘tong batang ‘to’ because we are trained to work under pressure. I believe yun yung clear advantage na pwede kong sabihin in my future job interviews.
Bukod dun, isa rin sa mga favorite subjects ko ay yung Ethics–meron kaming general, tapos may specific to Civil Engineering. Very important yung work ethics para sa akin kasi naniniwala ako na aanhin mo yung magandang educational background kung wala namang proper work ethics? Kung may maganda kang educational background, samahan mo na ng magandang work ethics because it will make you stand out as an employee. Hindi ka lang magaling–magaling at disiplinado ka pa.”
How do you cope with learning in the pandemic?
“Hindi naman ako masyadong nag adjust sa online classes kasi even before the pandemic we already do that in Mapúa. I’m also privileged to have a laptop and an internet connection kaya wala akong pwedeng ireklamo. Wala akong dahilan para hindi mag-aral. I guess the most challenging para sa amin na engineering students ay yung missed opportunities dahil sa pandemic.
Hindi kami pwedeng pumunta sa mga construction sites. Hindi kami nakakagamit ng mga equipment. Hindi rin kami nakakapag test ng mga lupa at tibay ng mga konkreto–which are all important to my specialization. Thankfully, naturo pa rin naman sa amin yung ibang important skills like plan management at paggawa ng construction schedule.
Since mas prone tayo sa stress ngayong pandemic, I make sure I get to meet my friends kahit once a month. Kapag nakikita ko sila, parang tumataas ulit yung energy at confidence ko. Hindi rin nawawala ang oras ko para sa pamilya at para sa sarili! When I’m sad, happy, or stressed, ang kasama ko lang ay Friends (TV series). Nanonood ako kahit at least three episodes bago matulog para mabawasan ang stress.”
What’s the most challenging part about being a student? How do you overcome it?
“Yung pinaka stressful na siguro ay kapag nagkakaubusan ng section during enrollment. Sa Mapúa kasi, kung gusto mo kunin yung isang subject, you have to find 14 more people since kailangan may 15 students sa isang section. Kung hindi, you’ll wait for another term. Sobrang stressful nun lalo na sa aming mga graduating students.
Bukod dun, challenging din yung pang enroll mismo. Sobrang affected yung finances namin ngayong pandemic kasi matagal nawalan ng work si papa. Savings lang yung inaasahan namin for utility bills at everyday expenses tapos nag-aaral pa ako. Kaya Bukas really helped! Kaka apply ko lang ng pambayad sa tuition kahapon kasi hindi ako makapag enroll dahil sa laki ng utang ko. Approved naman agad kasi good payer naman ako. Hindi ko na pinapaabot ng due date!
Dati nung hindi pa namin alam yung Bukas, hindi kami nakakapag grocery masyado. Pero ngayong may Bukas na, tapos dalawang libo lang yung binabayaran namin monthly, sobrang laking tulong kasi nakakabayad din kami ng ibang bills. Nakakapag grocery na rin kami! Hopefully, ngayong darating na November, makaka graduate na rin ako.”
What motivates you to study?
“Ang motivation ko sa pag-aaral ay yung pamilya ko talaga. Gusto ko matupad yung mga pangarap ko kasi para sa family ko rin naman yun. In order for me to provide a future for them, I should provide a good future for myself. Kailangan ko pagbutihan yung sarili ko para mapabuti ko rin ang buhay ng pamilya ko. Hindi naman nila ako nire require na ibalik lahat ng ginastos nila sa akin pero, para sa akin, utang na loob ko na sa kanila yun kasi hindi lang naman pera ang nilalabas nila kundi pagod at moral support.
I want to spoil my family. Hindi ako lumaking mayaman kaya pangarap ko na balang araw ma experience rin namin yung matiwasay na buhay. Gusto ko mabilhan si mama ng lahat ng mga damit na gusto niya. Si papa naman ang lambing sakin, ‘Gusto ko ng kotse kapag mayaman ka na.’ Kaya pangako ko sa kanya, ‘Yayaman tayo, Pa. Magtutulungan tayo.’”
Why is education important for you?
“Importante ang pag-aaral sa akin kasi naniniwala talaga ako na yung education yung isa sa mga tickets ko to be successful in the future. Kasi kahit saan, educational background yung isa mga laging tinitignan. Once you have a good educational background, parang you can easily find a job. Kapag nakahanap ako ng magandang trabaho, makakatulong ako ng maayos sa pamilya ko which is really my ultimate goal.”
From one dreamer to another
What is your dream career?
“To be a Civil Engineer!”
What is your career goal? Why?
“Bilang Civil Engineer, ang pinaka pangarap ko talaga ay maging isang contractor! Kapag nangyari yun, marami na akong magiging projects, makakapagpatayo na rin ako ng mga subdivisions at mga pabahay.
Aside from that, I also hope that my future work will contribute to the environment. Since marami na tayong technologies ngayon, ang pinaka objective ko talaga is to make sure that my projects will be able to build houses and communities that are sustainable and good for the environment. As an engineer, yun talaga yung isa sa mga priorities ko.”
How do you see yourself five or ten years from now?
“Para sa akin, I envision myself as an all-around Civil Engineer because I consider myself to be a versatile person. So nakikita ko yung sarili ko na kaya kong gawin lahat–nagpaplano at gumagawa ng iba’t-ibang mga bahay, mga buildings at mga condominiums. At ang pinakamasaya sa lahat: I’ll get to build my own dream home!”
What is your message to aspiring civil engineers like you?
"Try to imagine and assess things for yourself. Nakikita mo ba yung sarili mo na nagtatayo ng bahay? Ready ka ba na madumihan or kung ano man ang mga pwedeng mangyari in the future [as part of the job]?’ List down the pros and cons. Ginawa ko yun and it really helped me realize na Civil Engineering talaga yung path na para sa akin.
I asked myself, ‘Gusto ko ba yung nakaupo lang ako sa office o gusto ko ba yung everyday iba-iba ang nangyayari?’ As an adventurous person, I want to travel. Naisip ko na kapag naging Civil Engineer na ako, magagawa ko yun kasi possible na marelocate ako sa ibang mga lugar for different projects. So think of those things na gusto mo ring gawin when you decide for a course. At the end of the day, do what makes you happy!”
What is your message to your future self?
“Ang masasabi ko lang, ‘malayo pa man, malayo na rin.’ You’ve been through a lot, Stanly. Marami ka nang pinagdaanan na challenges and heartaches but always be thankful and humble! Yung mga challenges na yun, yung mga times na you hit rock bottom–that’s what made you a better person. Be confident din kasi yang confidence na meron ka yung dala dala mo hanggang sa pagtanda. And lastly, don’t forget to always be happy! You are a strong person kasi happy at contented ka kung ano mang meron ka sa buhay.”
Are you inspired or motivated by Stanly’s story? We surely hope so!
We know talking about an uncertain future can be quite overwhelming, even a bit scary. And that’s normal! The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. With stories like Stanly’s as well as other students who continue to take small steps toward their dreams, we hope you are reminded that a brighter and better future for you is also within reach–just waiting to unfold, one decision at a time.
Now all it takes is for you to take the next right step. And together with Bukas, you can! The question is, what path are you taking?
Learn more about how we make education affordable for thousands of Filipino students like you. Download the Bukas app on Google Play today! Kung gusto mo maging updated with our latest content and updates, you can connect with us on Facebook or reach us anytime via email!