Former Zamboanga scholar shares lessons learned from Unbound
In the United States, Labor Day is meant to celebrate the contributions of workers toward the success and prosperity of the country. It’s a day to rest and say thanks for all their hard work.
Unbound communities are also full of hard workers, from moms and social workers to group leaders and scholars. According to former Unbound scholar Helen from the Philippines, being part of the scholar program even helped instill a stronger work ethic in her and her fellow scholars.
Helen is the second youngest of four siblings. While she was never sponsored through Unbound like her sister Rose was, Helen did take part in the Unbound program for two years when she became one of the service scholars for the office in Zamboanga, Philippines.
“My family was so lucky,” Helen said. “My sister Rose has been sponsored, and my mom happens to be an area leader. So my whole family is really participating in the sponsorship program. It is a big help for all of us. I am a service scholar; I don’t have a sponsor. But being in Unbound, it thoroughly develops my personality. Unbound really builds me up, not only for academic excellence, but also in terms of our social well-being.”
As a service scholar, Helen helped out around the office, cleaning and helping organize events for sponsored members. In return for her service, she received a scholarship, which she used to pursue a degree in criminology, and also had the opportunity to participate in various formation events.
Now 36, Helen has worked for the Zamboanga Police for the past 14 years. In those years, she has held many posts, from Police Office Rank 1 all the way up to Lieutenant. Today, she is the Chief Public Information Officer, which means she is the spokesperson for her regional office in Zamboanga.
Helen attributes being an Unbound scholar as one reason for her success. She learned life skills, such as saving money, work ethic and integrity in logging work hours.
“[Compared to my life before,] I’ve come really far and everything has changed,” Helen said. “I learned in [Unbound] that education really changes the life of a person. That’s why I can tell that I am what I am right now because of [Unbound]. I always keep in mind the advice of our program coordinator, her teachings, her guidance and her encouragement to motivate us to be the best of what we can be.
“Even if we don’t have a sponsor, [the] Zamboanga program doesn’t let us feel like we are alone. They gave us all the support we need and all the motivation to keep us moving. As far as I know, in my [group of scholars], we are all already professionals, some are architects, some police, some other professions.”
In her role as a police officer, Helen has also used the leadership skills she learned from Unbound and from watching her mother’s interactions as a group leader.
“I am also proud of my Mom,” Helen said, “because even if she didn’t finish her studies, even in high school, she was able to be part of [Unbound], and handle, I think, more than 700 scholars for several years. She was loved by the families she served and she also loves what she is doing. That’s one of my inspirations to be what I am now.”
Even when someone is no longer part of the Unbound program, they’re still considered part of the Unbound community. Helen has experienced this through the assistance she received from other Unbound members when she was promoted to Chief of Police for one of the area offices in Zamboanga.
“I remember the first time I handled a major position in a town here in Zamboanga, I was surrounded by Unbound families,” Helen said. “When I started my job there as the Chief of Police for that station, the first thing I did was the beautification and cleanliness of the station that I handled. I’ve written in my report that Unbound helped me to accomplish that project. They really took care of me during that time; even the scholars of Unbound in that area helped us to plant seedlings. I’m just shocked that my police station turned out so beautiful. That touches my heart.
“Sometimes I am also invited to be a speaker, and I am always proud to share what Unbound taught me and how Unbound molded me to stand on my own. It’s just giving back to other sponsored members what I have learned and experienced in Unbound.”
Helen’s words of encouragement for others in situations similar to hers are simple:
“For other youths out there like me, I am a child of a farmer; my parents weren’t able to finish schooling. Nothing is impossible if you dream and strive for it. It is not impossible to reach what I’ve reached right now. That’s why you should grab the opportunity and do the best that you can to alleviate your lives from poverty.”
Visit unbound.org/education to learn more about our scholarship program and to donate today.