Education is considered a key step in a person’s journey out of poverty, but paying for higher education can also be one of the biggest challenges. It certainly was for Randy, a young man sponsored through Unbound in the Philippines since he was 8 years old.
That’s where Unbound’s scholarship program came in. Funded by donations for Education, the scholarship program enables students all over the world to pursue upper levels of education, such as high school, technical school or college, giving them the boost they need to achieve their dreams. We had the opportunity to interview Randy shortly before he graduated from college and learned how being part of the scholarship program impacted his life.
Randy was awarded a scholarship in 2009 so he could continue high school, and eventually, college. In the Philippines, though primary and secondary education are free and have high enrollment rates, according to UNESCO, only about 30 percent of students go on to enroll in some form of higher education. This is partly because more than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.
“The scholarship is a big help for me in many different ways,” Randy said. “Before, I didn’t know where I would get money to support my studies in college. I am an independent person; both my parents had passed away. I only have my older sister, who is suffering from an illness, her husband and my younger brother, who is studying in high school. We are living together in a small house with my two nieces.
“When I became a scholar, my entire burden was gone. [The scholarship] covers my expenses in school, transportation and even some of our food every day. We are really experiencing poor living, but we are trying our best to support each other in any way we can.”
Being part of the Unbound scholarship program also meant Randy was expected to complete service hours at the Unbound office. As a student, scholar and uncle, sometimes things got a bit hectic.
“Sometimes it happens all at the same time, like school work, scholars’ activities and family problems,” Randy said. “What I do is to prioritize the thing that is needed the most. When my parents died, it was hard to recover; but because of the foundation, they made me feel I am not alone and they gave me encouragement to persevere in life.
“Right now I wake up 4 a.m. to cook our breakfast because my nieces go to school at 6 a.m. My sister sells vegetables early in the morning; that’s why I’m left at home to take care of my nieces. After that, I review my studies. During the weekends I am in the office, checking letters, helping our staff and assisting on every activity that we have.”
Though he had originally planned on doing a two-year certificate course in information technology, Randy decided it would be better to pursue a four-year diploma course in drafting technology. He spends his free time honing his skills in AutoCAD, a software application for 2D- and 3D- computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting, and has even won AutoCAD design competitions through his college.
Randy has a lot of ambition, but his dreams of success aren’t just for himself.
“My short-term goal is to find a job after graduation and support my sister in her medical condition,” Randy said. “If possible, I want to study again and earn a degree in architecture. My long- term goal is to have a successful life and uplift our lives from poverty.
“As you could see, our house is very small. … I really want to live a simple and healthy life, not only for me, but for all of my family. I will be aiming for that and will never lose hope. The poverty that we are facing right now will never be a hindrance for me to succeed in life.”
Shortly after graduating in April of last year, Randy started working for a pharmaceutical company. Today, after working for the company a little more than a year, he’s already a senior CAD operator. With his short-term goal met, Randy is on the path to achieving his dreams.
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