Rediscovering my path: A young mother’s uplifting journey back to school

Judy Ann Almahan-Vasquez

I started studying at APC in 2005 as a Grade 1 student, until Grade 10. But I did not finish Grade 10 because I dropped out of school to find work in 2016. I felt lonely and needed to feel a sense of belonging, so I changed my life direction and joined for almost two years a group that advocated a struggle for change.

While in that group, I constantly longed to go back home. Every night, I missed my family and friends and reminisced about my life as a student. Everything changed when I met my partner in life who is now my husband. We both wanted to live together and start our own family and this made me finally decide to go home. It was then I realized that the group I was in was not meant for me.

Now I have two children, a four-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl, and the wellbeing of my children has become my big goal. I want to give them a good education when they grow up.

I returned to school and completed Grade 10 through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education. I am now 26 years old and I currently attend APC as a Grade 11 student and I realize that being a student is what I really want. At APC, teachers guide me and I have supportive classmates.

As a student and mother, I face many struggles – restlessness, time management issues, financial troubles, and trying to focus during lectures. I have to choose between school and family during incidents when our pantry is empty. Sometimes I give my food to my children and attend class with an empty stomach.

As a Grade 11 student in APC, I enjoy all the subjects. Although I may sometimes face difficulties in some subjects like problem solving in mathematics, I see this as a challenge because it will be of use when I help my children with their homework when they enter school.

I also want to share how much I appreciate attending the classes for the Global English Language (GEL) program, offered to APC students by the Jesuit Worldwide Learning in collaboration with APC. It helps me understand English concepts better, and I now feel more confident participating in class discussions using simple and basic English.

This progress is possible because of the supportive learning environment we have at APC. The teachers are always willing to help our learning, and my classmates and I make sure we help each other and never leave anyone behind. This is the only place where I truly feel a strong support system.

I am motivated to be educated, especially now that I have children. I don’t want them to go through what I did. My dream is simple, but it’s not always easy to pursue due to the challenges of life.

My goal is to be a good role model for other students, to inspire and motivate them to pursue their education and reach their goals in life. I also have hope for my community of Indigenous Peoples that they complete their studies and give back to the community.

This article is from an interview conducted in the Bisaya language by APC staff Joey Murillo who also did the translation to English.

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