Some people are lucky enough to know what exactly they want to be while others try and figure it out along the way. Claudine Allyson Dungo experienced both: she was sure she wanted to be a doctor since she was very young but somewhere along the way, things started to shift, which left her lost more than ever.
"Claudine Allyson R. Dungo
BS Biology, Class of 2015
...would've been the caption of this graduation photo if everything went as planned. But if you've been around long enough, you'd know that that's rarely the case.
"I was always going to be a doctor. I was made for it, they'd say.
"I was born into a family of medical practitioners. I grew up surrounded by doctors, and at the age of four I could identify the different parts of the female reproductive system. I knew names of diseases that some people, even in their adulthood wouldn't hear of. Everyone would tell me that I would be a brilliant doctor one day, just like my parents. All my life I believed that and everything I did was to work towards that goal.
"In grade school, I was a tomboyish, shy and awkward obese kid whose only redeeming qualities were her grades. I attended an all girls' school and was never really made to feel like I was good for anything else, so I hinged my self-worth on my academic performance."
"I worked to get awards every year, so that I could come on stage and be noticed, even for those brief moments. My efforts eventually got me into one of the country's most prestigious high schools: Philippine Science High (Pisay)."
Contrary to the preconceived notion people have of Pisay students, Claudine said she didn't do so well in her Science and Math subjects. She was great though in PE, English, and the Arts. But that didn't stop her from working hard for the UPCAT and eventually got into UP and her dream course, BS Biology with a DOST scholarship to boot!
Everything was happening according to plan and Claudine could already see the bright future ahead of her. But not for long. Somewhere along the way, she started to feel uninspired to the point that she failed a few subjects and got low grades.
"During the first semester of second year, the pre-med org I was applying to conducted a Med school campus tour, and I was exposed to what my future academic environment would be. Instead of being thrilled and excited, however, I was left with a sense of dread. The thought of working in the hospital, surrounded by the sick and the dying—which is inspiring to others—depressed me.
"Despite that, it didn't occur to me to change my plans. It was too late. I owed so much to my family and the government for subsidizing my studies for so many years. I was bound to dedicating my life and my talents to science. I had spent all my life working to become a medical student, and back then, being a doctor was the only career that I thought would make me worth something. If I didn't become one, I was a failure."
"It was the only way I could give back to the country. My parents and their colleagues would always tell me that money came easy when you were a doctor, and the sense of fulfillment when you help save a life is unparalleled. It was something I told myself every day to keep me going.
"I spent the entire semester acting like a robot—I'd go to class just for the sake of it, do my work dutifully so that I could live out my 'lifelong dream.' I slaved in the laboratory, working for the impeding future that I dreaded. It began to eat me away. I started hating microscopes, I started hating test tubes. I started hating the seats in the lab, the old, broken projector, the books, the preserved animals in the bottles, my professors. I started hating plants and animals. I started hating life.
"I thought myself to be a failure, that I couldn't make myself like what I was doing, or that I was simply not good enough for the field I had chosen. Though I was finally getting good marks on my requirements, it took everything in me just to keep it up, and I became miserable."
"It came to a point that I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I purposely stopped coming to class and failed core subjects and got 3.00 in others. I lost my scholarship. I was done. I was one of those 'promising kids' who eventually became bums."
"I didn't know what to do with my life."
She then spent the next semester taking General Education subjects so she could easily shift to a different course. Those subjects helped her slowly figure things out and explore a world outside of medicine.
"Watching my batchmates graduate and getting jobs for two years now and seeing younger and younger students each year while I stay stuck has been painful, sure. Looking back however, it has all been worth it. Two extra years is a small price to pay for the all the new things I've experienced, for the wonderful people I met along the way, and the realizations I made about myself that I would never have had if I stayed on course. Though I am not graduating with honors, I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been in my life."
"I've come a long way from being the girl who only found worth in her grades, and now I know that I am so much more than the 2.38 GWA on my transcript."
"So to all of you who feel stuck, to those who believe they aren't happy where they are, what I can tell you is take a leap of faith. You'll never know what is for you until you try. Things eventually fall into place."
For real this time,
Claudine Allyson R. Dungo
BS HRIM, Class of 2017
Incoming freshman at the UP College of Law
Read Claudine's full story here.
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