"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.
There are two types of people in the world: those who know what they want from the start, and those who don't know where to start. Viendelle Bruces, or Vien to his family and friends, is among the relative few who were programmed with a dream at an early age. (Disclaimer: It had a lot to do with a computer screen!)
Like most young people his age, Vien lives and breathes computer games. Valorant, Rainbow Six, Enders Crawl–you name it. He's played it all. He shares, “Ever since nung bata pa ako, mahilig na po ako sa games. I really love technology. I’ve always been curious how it was made and how it works."
When he's not swamped with school work, you can probably find Vien hanging out and playing with his friends online. This curiosity for computer games did not just earn him friends and gaming experience though. It's also the same curiosity that led him to consider computer-related courses in college.
Here’s a fun fact! During his first programming class, Vien learned to code using C++ and started programming memes as a hobby! Whoever said studying is no fun? Now that he’s in his fifth year in college and has become more adept with AI machine learning, his memes have also become more advanced. It’s gone beyond level 9999, if you ask us. Moreover, his dreams have become clearer. Or at least, onto the next level.
Learn more about Vien’s student life, dreams, and aspirations in our quick conversation!
Life as a Computer Engineering student
School and course in college
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, Mapúa University
Why did you choose your school?
“Bukod sa Mapúa yung isa sa mga universities na may pangalan talaga pagdating sa engineering, it really started with my parents na big fans talaga ng Mapúa simula nung mga bata pa sila. Since mahilig daw ako sa computer at decided naman na ako na Computer Engineering ang kukunin ko sa college, yun ang nire recommend nila sakin dahil they believe in Mapúa as a school and and as a standard in engineering.”
Why did you choose your course?
“Computer Engineering ang kinuha kong course because I really love programming. I love everything about computers and how they function. Dumating ako sa point na I was choosing among Computer Science, Information Science, and Computer Engineering. I searched online kung anong pinagkaiba, anong pinakamahirap, anong pinakasakop ang lahat. After three days, hindi na ako nag hesitate na piliin ang Computer Engineering. Sa Computer Engineering kasi pwede ko rin matutunan yung other related fields like IT, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering.”
What’s the most challenging part about being a student? How do you overcome it?
“As a student, hindi talaga mawawala yung pagiging financially challenged. Minsan kasi maraming binabayaran tapos sumasabay din yung mga projects sa family expenses. Kaya sobrang laking tulong talaga ang ibinibigay ng Bukas. I think nakakalimang apply na kami for tuition installment plans which is equivalent for five terms. Kung hindi dahil sa Bukas, siguro huminto na ako sa pag-aaral last year–noong mga first part ng pandemic kung kailan kami unang nag apply. Mababa rin yung interest rate kaya napagkakasya namin ang finances namin kahit papano.
Bukod sa financial challenges, pinakamahirap din para sa akin yung pag communicate with different people. Lalo na marami sa Mapúa ang irregular students. You always need to adjust with them. Kaya dun ko talaga na realize na sobrang importante na makahanap ng mga kaibigan.”
How do you cope with learning in the pandemic?
“Yung pinaka challenging ngayong pandemic period ay yung lectures since pinapanood lang namin sa Zoom. Mas mahirap talaga maintindihan yung mga lessons. Kapag meron akong tanong, mahirap mag approach sa mga profs kasi through Zoom meeting lang pwede or via Blackboard, yung online platform na ginagamit namin for assignments.
Since marami kaming magkakaibigan sa klase, gumawa kami ng parang study group sa Discord, kasama yung ibang engineering students from other schools. That’s where we communicate and brainstorm ng mga pwede naming itanong sa klase. Kung kaya namin, kami na rin yung naghahanap ng mga sagot para matulungan namin ang isa’t-isa. Dun na rin yung communication namin for our studies and all-time gaming. Hindi na kami gumagamit ng ibang social media platforms.”
What are your favorite learnings so far?
"Yung best and least favorite part ko sa pag-aaral ay yung pagiging challenging niya. Since sobrang short ng time dahil sa quarterm, we have to accomplish the quotas within three months, compared to other schools na six months. We really learn to work under pressure. Nandun yung kaba everytime na may lecture tapos hindi ko agad maintindihan. But there’s also that amazement kapag naipapasa ko yung mga exams.
Until na experience ko na talaga yung system ng Mapúa, dun ko natutunan kung paano talaga maka cope as a student. Kaya kapag tinatamad ako, lagi kong pinapaalala sa sarili ko: Manage your workload to avoid cramming and asking for extensions. Plan your schedule in the morning and learn how to adjust your sleep schedule to start your day right. Sobrang nakakatulong sa akin to stay motivated kahit challenging.”
What motivates you to study?
“So far, ang motivation ko sa studies ko ay yung mga tao na nag e encourage sa akin. Kumbaga, ipinagmamalaki nila ako na parang ‘Uy, malapit ka na grumaduate!’ or ‘Kaya mo yan!’ First and foremost ay yung parents ko, lalo na si mama. Sobrang cheerful niya sa akin kahit pinagsasabihan niya ako kasi minsan dahil sa kakulitan ko. Kasama na rin yung mga friends ko sa Discord group namin. They cheer me up. Kapag sumisigaw ako dahil sa stress, sinasabayan din nila ako tapos maglalaro kami pagkatapos.”
Why is education important for you?
"First of all, para may mabalik ako sa parents ko kahit papano. Wala naman silang hinihingi sakin. Basta kuntento lang sila na makapagtapos ako at yun na ang karangalan para sa kanila. Pero sobrang dami kong gustong gawin para sa kanila. Siguro kapag may pera na ako, bibilhan ko sila ng house and lot.
As a person naman, yung education ang magtataguyod sa akin in the future. Yung tipong may maipagmamalaki rin ako sa mga tao regarding sa mga natutunan ko. And hopefully, my education will not only help me but it will also allow me to contribute to our country and even to the whole world."
From one dreamer to another
What is your dream career?
“To be a computer engineer!”
What is your career goal? Why?
“As an engineer, ang objective namin ay to solve problems that are yet to be solved. Kapag nagtatrabaho na ako, I hope to find ways to innovate and contribute in improving our systems. Isa na dun yung pangarap ko na makapag publish ng paper at makagawa ng software program na makakapagpagalaw ng images ng tao or object in real time using AI machine learning.”
How do you see yourself five or ten years from now?
“Five years from now, I see myself as a full stack developer with many contributions in the AI world. Since mahilig ako sa machine learning, sana may contributions na rin ako sa automation, detection, and image processing. Yung makakapag predict ng galaw ng mga tao! This would be helpful sa mga factories, construction, and even security sa mga personal homes. Kasama na rin dito ang pagpapabilis ng network connection natin. Siguro yung susunod sa 5G? Kasama na ako sa mga makakapag develop ng 6G!”
What is your message to aspiring computer engineers like you?
“First of all, ask yourself if you really love the course and if you’re really interested in programming. Marami kasi akong kilala na sa una lang nila nagustuhan dahil sa pangalan ng course, dahil maganda pakinggan ang “computer engineering.”
Kung gusto mo talaga ang programming, go ahead and further your knowledge about AI, electronics, and computer programming. Learn something new! Challenge and beat yourself every day. Kasi kung puro madali lang yung nae encounter natin, mahihirapan tayo sa magiging trabaho natin someday. As future engineers, we are here to solve problems.”
What is your message to your future self?
"Try to improve yourself every day. You can do it! Tandaan mo na lahat ng problema, may solution. If ever na mahirapan ka, always try to find ways, reach out and talk to someone, and learn something new out of it."
Are you inspired or motivated by Vien’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 Vien’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 today 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!