Struggles, challenges, fiascos- These are just some of the lexical themes that encapsulate pandemic outbreak for over two years now. We have stories of success to failure, and stories of failures to success. The latter just gives a glimpse of optimism as we unfurl a story that ignites a spirit fueled with passion, commitment, and faith.

Jodel Olaya is an epitome of a graduate with passion, commitment, and faith. As a part of the Class of 2022 Graduates, he is beyond grateful to what he has achieved as he considered it a milestone, thereby unfolding another chapter of his life while embarking on a journey of great unknown.

He wore an academic gown, he received a hard-earned diploma, and his euphoria is beyond description. He did not only graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, but he also graduated with an honor of Summa Cum Laude, the first ever in the long history of Eastern Visayas State University. A boy, who was once a dreamer, finally lives on the dreams he just thought of having.

From Laundry Lad to Laude Man

Born from an average earner family, his dreams to soar high started at an early age. In his formative years, he saw the tainted picture of society and witnessed how his parents strove harder to send them to school, and provided them education that would unlock the door toward unraveling the path of infinite success.

As Mr. Olaya’s mother, Lucena Olaya, worked hard to sustain the needs of the family. She worked at a daycare center on weekdays, and she accepted laundry work from select customers on weekends. It was an opportune time for Mr. Olaya to help his mother. “Ako an nagbobomba, hi nanay an naglalaba ngan nagbabanlaw,” Mr. Olaya confessed. But still, he needs to find another source of income to augment his financial needs and allowance at school. In relation to this, he took part in selling merchandise. “Nagtitinda ako hin balut, mga utanon, nag-uuma,” mentioned Mr. Olaya.

 At times, he would go around and sell variety of products to earn something for the family. His life has never been easy. Yet as a child, he still enjoyed life. He played with his friends and made fond memories with them.

An Outstanding Student

 Admittedly, he was an average student, but he also envisioned academic distinctions. He always delineated his family as the motivation to achieve those aspirations in life. Unfortunately, a significant detour eventuated when his eyesight was damaged while he was playing games with some fellow. He could have lost his vision, but only an eye got partially damaged. He may have partially lost his vision, but his vision of being a somebody in the future has always been much clearer than the lens of his eyeglasses.

As one of the first products of K-12 program, he graduated with awards and recognition. That intensified his goal to pursue more and not settle for less. For Mr. Jodel, he wants more.

College has never been a walk in the park. Considering the pecuniary challenges that he went through and that his parents could hardly support him because of poverty, his dreams were covered with elusiveness and that somewhat ambiguated the vision of reaching the star of success amid the tunnel of his academic journey.

He applied for a scholarship, and when the entrance results were out, he was accepted at Eastern Visayas State University with the degree Bachelor of Elementary Education. Now, he is a step closer to achieving his success.

Fast forward, the undulating archetype of his collegiate years got even more exacerbated when a pandemic swept the globe.  All classes have shifted to online and flexible learning; however, for Mr. Olaya, he was advised not to expose himself too much on the computer or smartphone screen, for it will worsen his eyesight.

Amid all these, he did not go against the waves of turmoil; he went through it and rode with life’s uncertainties, imbibing himself with the hope for a brighter tomorrow that after the tempest, a rainbow of promise prevails.

A proud Mother

Behind the success of Mr. Olaya is a caring mother who selflessly renders herself to the full support of her children.  Mrs. Lucena Olaya made sure that under her tutelage, her children will secure better education against the backdrop of financial constraints and poverty. “Unta la dire hya unta magbago para ha iya kabugtuan, buligan unta nya an iya kaumangkunan nga makaiskwela,” the teary-eyed mother advised.

She values education inasmuch as she values the future of her children. Mrs. Lucena always impresses upon the hearts of her children the exquisiteness of continuous learning. “Pangag-iskwela kamo bisan la kita pobre,” she said.

Pushing himself to and beyond the limit

In the absence of extrinsic motivation, self-motivation is rarely sustained. As a family-oriented student, Mr. Olaya finds his family as his source of strength when the world seems not to make sense and everything crumbles. “My family pushes me to achieve my dreams in life; Karuyag ko as a student, magtrabaho liwat ako it akon para liwat mabuligan ko it ak nanay,” he added.

What lies ahead?

Graduating Summa Cum Laude entails a lot of pressure, expectations, and hopes from society. For Mr. Jodel, it is a humbling experience to have received such distinction given by the beloved university. “I will not promise anything. One thing is for sure. I will not settle for less; I will settle for more. In every achievement that I have, I feel pressured, yet turned into motivation to strive more,” determined Mr. Olaya asserted.

As of the moment, he cherishes the achievement he earned so diligently. In fact, during his collegiate years, he went vibrant in honing himself professionally as he engaged himself in online colloquia and international contests. “Amidst global pestilence, I helped the institution a lot through joining in international competitions,” quipped Mr. Olaya.

He becomes who he is now because of the quality education Philippine curriculum offers. More specifically, he is beyond grateful for the K-12 framework which promotes lifelong learning. “The K-12 curriculum gives us opportunity, knowledge, and proves us to become better students in college,” Mr. Olaya recounted.

A Message to the Class of 2022

Mr. Olaya admits that he could not have reached this far in his life had it not been his classmates and colleagues who served as his scaffold amid the most unprecedented phases of his life. In this regard, he has this to say to the Class of 2022: “Do not be afraid to be different. I encourage them to stand out, not just to be outstanding. We have different stories to tell. Don’t settle for less.”

On the other hand, he consoles those who are struggling in the academe, juggling between work and study, among other things.  “They don’t have to be intelligent at all. They just have to look for something that will motivate them to do better- to be the best version of themselves,” said Mr. Olaya.

Similarly, students need to communicate with their professors, think outside the box, and surpass the professors’ expectation to ensure quality learning. “‘Di mo kilangan magin matalino; You just have to be wiser, and think outside the box,” said Mr. Olaya.

EVSU is an institution where dreams are transformed into realities. Mr. Olaya conquered life’s challenges throughout his collegiate years. “I had financial struggles; Maupay nala nag offer an CHED hin scholarship.  Maupay nala an EVSU nagpahabol pa.  Luckily, nakasakob ako. I promise to myself that I will do my best,” asserted Mr. Olaya.

The institution became an avenue for him to traverse the world of possibilities through engaging himself in lifelong learning. “EVSU gave me various ways to grow,” Mr. Olaya concluded.