3 Graduates Who Stopped at Nothing to Achieve Their Dreams

Graduation stories of a sapatero's son, a fisherman's daughter, and a habal-habal driver.
IMAGE Regine Cañete Villamejor on Facebook

If you're having a rough time in college, take inspiration from these students who overcame all odds to achieve their dream of holding the diploma they've worked hard to pursue. 

Jireh Bautista, 21, a sapatero's son 

Jireh is proof that poverty is no excuse to give up on getting a proper education. The 21-year-old Computer Science student will finish college at the Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) with the highest honors—summa cum laude no less. 

Jireh, son of Pantaleon, a shoe repairman, and Belinda, a homemaker, has always been an achiever. A product of the public school system, he felt financial difficulties affect his studies when he was in high school. He recalled his older sister having to stop going to school to give way to their older brother. Jireh also had to miss school activities that entailed additional cost; this made him decide to focus on his church ministry instead. Faith in God was a sentiment echoed by his father as well. 

Jireh was able to finish because of the scholarships he received from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Cebu City Government, Real Life Foundation of Victory Christian Fellowship, Cebu City National Science High School Batch 1977, and the CIT-U. 

In his graduation speech published by SunStar Cebu, Jireh stressed that while a good education could give one an edge, there is more to life than high grades and school awards. "What truly matters is your life story."

"You might be struggling now with a number of things—school or even financial struggles or your relationships or problems within the family. But what make a great testimony are not literally the achievements but the amazing stories of integrity, of breakthroughs over your struggles and of victories over your hardships," Jireh said.

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Regine Villamejor, 20, fisherman's daughter

A fisherman and a fish vendor's daughter, Regine couldn't help but shed tears of happiness as she dedicated her diploma and medals to her parents, Raul and Mary Jane. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Commerce, majoring in Communication and Marketing (LIACOM) at the University of San Jose-Recoletos-Basak Campus in Cebu. 


With the meager income from selling fish, the family made ends meet so Regine can have a college education, something her parents weren't able to achieve. During her sophomore year, Regine underwent surgery for internal hemorrhoids. She kept up with her studies by keeping in touch with her classmates to work on her school projects.

"This [medal] is for my parents. [When I received the medal] I remembered all their sacrifices," the 20-year-old told Inquirer's Cebu Daily News. As she received her diploma, her parents, both high school graduates, couldn't be more proud. Mom Mary Jane cried in disbelief; she never expected Regine to complete college. Dad Raul was genuinely thankful for having a good daughter who recognized their efforts and worked hard to complete her college education.

Her parents left it up to Regine to decide what to do next. One thing is sure, though: Regine will continue to work hard to help her parents provide for the family and her two younger brothers. For the young kids, she shares what kept her on track. "Where there are love and determination, you can never go wrong. Just be optimistic, no matter how complicated the situation may be," she told Pep.ph


Joyce Dublin, 30, motorcycle driver

When he was forced to give up schooling for work, Joyce, who graduated valedictorian in high school, had to set aside his dreams of pursuing a college education. He had to work away from his family as a supermarket stockroom checker before deciding to come home and work as a habal-habal (motorcycle) driver. 


His fate changed when he met a passenger who, after admiring his school performance, offered to pay for his education. He took up a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education, major in Mathematics, at the Cebu Technological University-Daanbatayan Campus. He also got a scholarship from the university. "Discipline is key," Joyce told ABS-CBN News.

Now that his hard work paid off, his next goal is to get a certification as a teacher, his real passion. Joyce equated life's struggles to math problems: it takes hard work and a whole lot of determination to arrive at the right formula for success.

Congratulations, graduates! May your hard work continue to inspire others around you. 

This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.









About the author
Rachel Perez for SmartParenting.com.ph
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Rachel Perez for SmartParenting.com.ph

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I don't know. by Mariella Ysabel Amatus

I don’t know what to do. I feel lost. I don’t know what to do. I feel alone. I don’t know what to do. I feel abandoned. Dreams are things we ought to have. Without them, we might never know where will our future take us. We seem to be trained to have them. I want to be a nurse. I want to be a doctor. I want to be an engineer. I want to be a lawyer. Those are the lines children tell in front of people. It seems simple to dream. To have an ambition. Well, I thought it is. But, now, as I put a book on my lap, thinking about where my fate will lead me, it isn’t.

I feel drowned in the responsibility of knowing what I wanted. The season of college entrance tests are coming. Yet, I feel nothing but doubtful. I studied, but now, I am not doing such a thing. I felt so engrossed the last time I checked myself months ago. Now, I am unsure of what I want to do. I have to study. Yes, I know. However, I feel so dismissive to do something. I can’t even point out what’s the problem in me.

What am I doing? I must go, open some books, and study hard. But, I am never doing it in this present moment. Instead of challenging myself with tons of knowledge, I am here writing this passage with my mind resonating with unspoken words and truth. I seem insane, right? What will happen to me if I keep on doing nothing? Well, simple. I will never be successful - I know that. Then, what must I do?

Asking myself such a question will never suffice what I really need. Because, I’ve been asking myself questions all the time. Yet, I’ve never come up with answers. I don’t know what to do. I feel like being pained. I don’t know what to do. I feel like being tortured. I don’t know what to do. I feel like being misunderstood. I don’t know what to do. I don't know.

A Stranger "Things"

strangers can be not strangers, they can be someone else

Isn't it intimidating to interact with strangers? Majority will say "yes" certainly. No doubt, parents also come up with their very classic "Don't talk to strangers" smart advice for their children. But come to realize to take the opposite approach of it as we grow older, there's a tangled idea in our head it it is beneficial or not.

Finding comfort to someone we don't know is like finding a needle in the bunch of hay. A blurry-blurry thing, a no-percent no-possibility to happen. But not to compare, for others it's like their way of finding comfort, way to socialize, way to widen their circle of acquaintance, that's why psychologist somewhat agree with it. If the person didn't give you a ghastly vibe, why not give it a try to interact. It's kinda weird thing to open doors for strangers,but at the same time, its interesting. Think of this, why its easy for others to share secretes of them, or to have pretty intimate conversation to random person? Cause they say, "No judgement".

Why its okay to ask help to person we dont know if we are in unfamiliar place? Cause they can help us, and same goes in other way. Bottomline, Strangers are not just strangers or a person we dont know, or a person that our parents taught us not to talk to. They can be someone else who can help us in times of unfamiliarity of places or thing. They can be the person who sit next to you in the bus who ask for a little help for direction and end up having a great conversation.

They can be a lot more we didn't expect to, and you can tell by yourself that your best of friends you have today are once a complete stranger to you yet you end up having a strong bond of friendship. They are the person we completely don't know, we dont know their upbringings or what, but sometimes the can be more helpful to us than the others we know. By simply having a casual conversation with them, we're not noticing that they are giving us a diffirent approach to different aspects in life and unfortunately, this idea overpowers by just word "stranger". Hopefully, maybe now or then, we're very thankfull that we took the opposite approach of "do not talk to strangers"

marj carbonel 8 hours ago
Nyla David 8 hours ago

Hi Candy! I saw a repost of your IG story from one of my good friends who happens to be your candy rookie, Margaux Nonato, about students who started their business this quarantine season. I wanted to submit my own story as well but didn’t have the guts to do so, until I read the stories of some students who happen to share the same experience as mine!

Telling my own story might be a little overdue, now that you’ve already published the article but I wanted to give this a try still if it means inspiring other people as well. I am an incoming third year medical student from De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute and I have also decided to do something productive (aside from studying my backlogs of course) and something unique that may help me to challenge myself into exploring new things aside from human anatomy, pathology, and all those medical greatness.

Kudos to everyone who decided to start their online businesses! I must say it isn’t easy at all so we all deserve a round of applause for doing great and getting this far! I’ve always been a fan of baking since I was a kid. I remember making my own chocolate chip cookies when I was in second year high school and back then, I only baked with a microwave (since our oven was whack) and used choco choco as the chocolate in my cookies ???? they are not as bad as they seem! Trust me!

Since then I’ve always dreamed of finding the perfect recipe. I took Biochemistry in college and went straight to studying Medicine so my plan in finding the perfect recipe was always postponed since studying for my future patients will always be my number one priority. (Naks) Then Coronavirus happened. I just finished my last semester for 2nd year Med last June and I’ve decided to finally come up with the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, then tried selling them for extra allowance to help in our expenses. In addition to my chocolate chip cookie recipe, I’ve also managed to bake chocolate crinkles and different varieties of brownies! Who would’ve thought that a super busy medical student would have the chance to bake and create her own online business as well? (While in Med School!!!)

So then I started my online business, named “Harina Manila”.You can also find it on instagram and facebook @harina.manila!! I like to call my baked goods “paboridough” because the ones that I bake are indeed my favorites and I‘d like to share it with everyone. Kaya sa mga broken hearted jan, dibale nang hindi ka niya pinili, sa Harina Manila, ikaw ang aming paboridough ???? (hahaha corny!) From deciding what to name your business, to buying ingredients almost every week, and finding the right packaging that fits your style, starting your own online business really takes time and dedication! But as they say, kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga!

This goes not only to medical students like me, but to all students who are struggling to keep themselves sane this quarantine season. Amidst the pandemic that we are facing right now, I hope that we may not forget to take good care of ourselves both physically and mentally. May we find the courage to remain optimistic and try new things that could help us grow and become better. Sharing with you my story this quarantine season, I hope I may be able to inspire other people into believing that they too, can do something amazing, heck there’s no limit to what we can all achieve! As long as we work hard for it, malayo ang mararating natin! I thank you, Candy Mag, for spreading good vibes and inspiration to everyone by publishing good stories! To all the lovely readers who took their time to read Candy’s article, if this ever gets published, I hope you remind yourselves today that you are capable of doing amazing things and that there is no limit to what you can achieve. Fighting! Dont forget to visit, like, and follow my page on Facebook and Instagram, Harina Manila (@harina.manila) and try out some of our baked goods! We got you covered, my paboridough! Thank you! ??

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