As a Manila Science Alumni Foundation Scholar, I find myself looking forward to something every quarter. In the words of Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity”.
My sister and I have dreams and my parents had difficulties to meet them. An opportunity came to us through a Mascian teacher who encouraged me to try transferring to Manila Science not because its for free but because in it, I would be able to find my strengths and face my weaknesses and in the process, help my family. Upon approval of being a scholar, I made friends and learned that I am not alone. We contact each other for meetings and our friendship stems not just because we are in the same school but because we are a member of a foundation that strives to help us in any way they can. The Christmas parties were definitely memorable. The games we played made us closer as we all share a similar burden.
Last school year was the most difficult year for me. My stipends always helped me with projects. When I did my research for grade 9, little did I know that I would be able to reach all the way to the National level. I had to have a suit for my defense, improve display boards and make printouts for the competition. Though the contest fee was paid for from school funds, I was worried since I was the only one with no teacher present. My parents provided their support as much as they can by visiting me during the day but in the afternoons, they would leave. I had no teacher, classmate with me most of the time but I made new friends. I met people from different parts of the country but what I thought of at night when we all slept in a small room was my friends and fellow scholars that wished me luck before I left. My stipend helped me with the project requirements and when I won, I took out my close friends for pizza. Three of them were scholars like me. They weren’t able to reach the regional level but were with me during the division competition. They were part of the school paper and were so proud to write down our names as winners of various competitions.
This summer was very challenging for me. In the span of four years as a member of Mathematics Trainers Guild, I finally qualified for MOSTP. It was more than a month’s training at Hope Christian High School. My savings had dwindled due to the research competition and my winnings there helped pay for my four day seminar prior to the summer trainings. My parents were given a letter together with my certificate. The fee for the month long seminar was a little less than a year of my stipend as a scholar. The foundation helped with the fee and gave us invaluable advice on what to do should I be able to qualify for the international competition.
I had to have transportation allowance and food for a month since I could not afford to live in the dorms. My mother packed my lunch and snacks and several qualifiers shared transportation to get us through travelling several hours a day from Monday to Saturday. It was hard but knowing that I had the foundation and my school behind me lessened my burden. The training was severe. There was a day that I attended despite having a fever. It was the day before the final exams. I actually survived it and school was about to open. By June, it was announced that I qualified to represent the country in Thailand. Again my parents could not believe the fee I had to pay but we remembered the advice of Ate Luz to seek help from the Division Office and local governments. The advice she gave was invaluable because it helped secure my first trip abroad to represent my school, the foundation and my country in a contest that opened my eyes to just how big the world really is.
What I have achieved was due to the help and wisdom of the foundation. I am proud to be a MaScian scholar. Through all the difficulties my family encountered, I had found an opportunity to help myself and others by inspiring them that nothing is impossible when you have God by your side, family and friends at your behind.