36-year-old Sirib Academic Scholar: "Wala sa edad 'yan"Jun 01, 2018
Out of 71 beneficiaries of the Sirib Academic Scholarship program of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), Mrs. Leonila Gudoy stands out among graduating students of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) – the same institution where she has worked for nearly two decades.
A resident of Quiling Sur, City of Batac, Leonila is the first beneficiary of the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), an educational assessment program, to also be a Sirib scholar and soon, alumna.
She first started working on the farm of the Crop Research Laboratory (CRL), which houses the MMSU Research Directorate. In 2007, she applied for and was hired as a janitress for the College of Agriculture, Food, and Sustainable Development (CAFSD).
"Nakapag-aral ako ng college noong 1999, BS Home Technology, at natapos ko yung isang taon, pero basta na lang umabot doon sa puntong nag-asawa na ako, kaya tumigil ako," she recounted.
"Itutuloy ko sana – hindi naman ako buntis noong nag-asawa ako. Kaya lang, noong nagsama na kami, nabuntis ako kaagad at wala pa namang pampaaral. Syempre, dapat unahin ang pamilya."
In 2013, Dr. Carmelo J. Estaban, former dean of the College of Industrial Technology (CIT), encouraged her to look into the ETEEAP, which offers a "Study Now, Pay Later," policy.
She grabbed the opportunity, using her salary to fund her schooling while her husband's earnings from ground maintenance of MMSU went to household expenses.
Together, they persevered as Leonila balanced her time and energy tending to their children (including a seven-month-old baby), studying, and working. She and one other janitor are responsible for keeping the entire CAFSD campus clean and orderly, including the college grounds.
She almost stopped schooling again in 2015, due to the high cost of her laboratory subjects. "Ang ginagawa ko noon, umuutang ako sa mga kasamahan ko sa trabaho – yung mga guro sa CAFSD, para lang may pang-laboratory ako. Sa awa ng Diyos, nakakahabol ako lagi sa grade requirement namin."
Soon after hearing about the PGIN's Sirib scholarships from students at CAFSD, Leonila gathered the courage to inquire if she was eligible.
"Dumiretso ako sa PED [Provincial Education Department] – naaalala ko pa, magsasara na sana sila noon pero nakita kasi nila yung mga class card ko, pati ang request letter ko. Sa awa ng Diyos, nakuha ako."
On graduating, "Masayang-masaya ako at gusto kong ibahagi sa mga anak ko, pati na rin sa ibang tao, na wala sa edad – hindi dapat hadlang ang edad – o kung ano mang hirap sa buhay, para maipagpatuloy ang ating pag-aaral.
"Mas dapat pa nga tayong magpursigi para sa ating kinabukasan, at para mas madaling maghanap ng mas magandang trabaho para sa ating pamilya."
She expressed thanks to the PGIN and to Governor Imee R. Marcos, and encourages other scholars not to waste the opportunity that they have been given: "Iilan lang ang nabibigyan ng ganitong pribilehiyo, kaya sana tuloy-tuloy ang programang ito para marami pa ang matutulungan."
On June 8, 2018, Leonila will be one of the 2,553 graduating and marching on the MMSU Sunken Garden.