Breaking financial barriers to enable bright youth realize their potential is at the core of Aiducation partnership work with Pathways Philippines. Embodying this passionate reality is Joanne M. – a young and bright AiduFellow from Marikina, Philippines. Her eloquent responses show the impact actively equipping bright yet financially disadvantaged students makes to turn dreams and aspirations into reality – for the student and larger community.

AI: Joanne, can you please tell us a bit about your family and yourself?
I am a BSc Life Sciences major in Ateneo de Manila University, plan to continue my studies in a medical school and hope to become a full-fledged doctor. My mother is an employee at Philippine Match Industries, Inc. and my father is unemployed. I have two sisters, one just started working as an accountant, and the other is still in her third year in college taking up Psychology. Fortunately, both of us are scholars in our schools. Our family income is just enough to get us by but, through our scholarships, we are able to receive high quality education and secure our future.

Aside from studying, I am also actively involved in several organizations in the university which I think is very essential in my development as a person and as a leader. I have been an active participant of Pathways to Higher Education for almost six years now. In addition, I have also been a member of the Pre-Medical Society of the Ateneo and the Ateneo Biological Organization, both of which are related to my course. I also became a deputy in the organization side of Matanglawin, one of the publications in the university.

AI: What are the top three things you are passionate about?
I am passionate towards achieving my dream and pursuing a career in medicine. I have longed to become a doctor since I was a child, and this desire to become a doctor has been intensified through my various experiences inside and outside the school. I hope to become a doctor someday that does not only work within the confines of the hospital but also out there in the real world, genuinely engaged with the people.

I also love working and interacting with children. I find myself to be especially happy when I am with little kids. The kids have shown it is from this passion of mine that I am considering to be taking pediatrics as a specialization in the future.

Lastly, I would like to participate in advocating and developing a more accessible higher education in the country. As an individual belonging to a poor household, I fully understand and experienced firsthand the difficulties of pursuing quality college education. It has become a sad reality that there are many talented students out there who are not able to continue their studies due to financial challenges. I believe that all people should have the right to education, may they be rich or poor.

AI: You and your teammate placed 2nd in the San Beda College of Medicine Inter-Collegiate Quiz Bee held last Jan. 2014. Congratulations again! What did you learn about yourself during that competition?
When I entered the competition, I realized that experiences like these give me valuable knowledge that opened new avenues for me. It made me feel proud of myself, that in my own simple way, I have been given the chance to represent my alma mater and give honor to it by facing and accepting the challenge. Win or lose, I am still the winner because of this rare opportunity.

Joanne (5th from left) achieved 2nd place at San Beda College Quiz Bee. “The experience was really memorable as I came with my partner who is also my closest friend in school”.

AI: How have Aiducation & Pathways influenced how you look at the world?
Generous organizations such as Aiducation and Pathways have helped me become the person who I am today. I can say that I would not be where I am today were it not for their kindness. Through them, I saw the value of education in my life and my future. They have also made me realize that it is okay to dream big despite our family situation and the difficulties that we are experiencing in our lives. But, it should not stop with just dreaming. With dreaming comes action. We should also do something in order to move towards achieving our dreams and to be able to look forward to a brighter future.

AI: You are one of the candidates for Class 2014-15 Valedictorian. How will you make yourself stand out from other candidates?
Aside from my persevering attitude, I can say that the values and experiences that Pathways instilled in me these past few years made me unique. The summer camps, enrichment classes, leadership formation camps and other activities that I attended in high school and college equipped me with the necessary academic knowledge as well as with the right skills and attitude of a leader. Being involved with various school organizations have given me the chance to effectively organize and actively participate in several meaningful projects. Representing Ateneo in different quiz bees and competitions also gave me an edge. To be declared a winner is gratifying, but more important is the honor that I will be giving back to my beloved school. These I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Joanne (in white) at a medical mission in Payatas in 2013: She served as a doctor’s assistant and was able to interact with the people in the community.

Interview: Mirembe Izagiire

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