Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Woman of the Hour

By Lycel D. Caingcoy

The deafening drums and the yells of amazement echo simultaneously around the four-walled stadium. She humbly walks through a narrow aisle where a thousand pairs of eyes stare at her. But she knows that she is going to be alright because her family is right there, too. In their faces are hues of vibrant smiles and proud hearts. And from them she took the courage to step forward towards the stage and shake hands with the upper echelons of the university. She is yet to receive the highest form of academic award a Norsunian can ever achieve.

The cheers and never ending applauses continued to overwhelm her as she finally arrived at the stage. For the first time in her life, she herself has become the spotlight. The mass media flocked at the sides of the stage to commemorate an event that will mark a new local history of the province – the only state university in Negros Oriental to produce its first Summa Cum Laude.

Bitterness of Life

Twenty-year old town girl Henzel Mae Ymbol was raised in a simple life with her average earner parents. A native from San Juan, Siquijor and the eldest of four siblings, she admitted that she helps her father tend their coconut farm, livestock, and usually do chores that are intended for boys. Recounting her yesteryears, Ymbol related that in behalf of her mother, she was the one who sets their food and that her usual routine was to wash the wet blankets and baby pads of her younger brother before heading to school and babysit him after classes. Ymbol shared that the sacrifices she undertook during her grade school were the ones that tested her courage and made her realize that there are a lot of more important things to attend to.

Going to school without a penny in her pocket, having been mocked by classmates because her clothes and bags have once been theirs’ and retaining old pencil and notebooks at the start of the school year did not beset her. Henzel admitted that she started to become aware and worry the thing that worry her parents—and that is the financial status of her growing family. It was the time she painted a mark in her heart that she will become more serious. Henzel ensured to manifest whole shrewdness towards her studies. Her adversities did not hinder her to graduate class valedictorian at Catulayan Elementary School.

Was and Always a Victor

After treading the rocky road of her elementary years, she had to face another unsure chapter of her student life. Her being a high school student brought her another set of responsibilities and undertakings that yielded another gathering of tough times to further assess her persistence and faith in the Almighty. She became a working student in her school for free miscellaneous fees and even accepted laundries and cleaning jobs from one of her teachers to fund her projects. When summer comes, her father would send her as a family helper at Larena, Siquijor where she learned how to deal with other people and that the values she attained from doing so lives up until the present. With the plight she was in, she still managed to work and even brought home the bacon after graduating as class valedictorian at Catulayan National High School.

Plain living as it was, Henzel was rest assured that her parents could not send her to college. She knew that her old and frail parents would be grappling with more and more expenses. Indeed, desperate times call for desperate measures; hence, her brother was urged to stop schooling, giving way to pursue her dream.

Being top of her class, a scholarship program was offered by the United Coconut Planters Bank–Coconut Industry Investment Fund (UCPB–CIIF) to shoulder her studies here in Dumaguete City. She never disappointed them anyway. To further compensate her schooling, she worked as a student assistant in the Mathematics Department and even conducted tutorial classes in Math. She borrowed a laptop from a tutee so as to finish her thesis and projects.

Because of Henzel’s brilliant academic performance, her four siblings would battle with endless queries regarding their individual standing in the academe, figuring out who among them had a share of blessing. Henzel however related that she is still their proud “ate” who accepts and loves them for who they are and what they are capable of.

Friendly Gal

When among friends, Henzel shared that she wanted her pals to feel comfortable with her as a companion. Instead of getting pissed off when a joke is thrown on her, she manages to gag back and eventually join with the laughter. She treasures her friends as much as they treasure her. That is why she always exerts effort in knowing them first before getting at ease with them. When she is left alone, she can be found daydreaming after reading a novel. Some of her most favorite novels were Jane Eyre and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by English writer Charlotte Brontë and American author Harriet Beecher Stowe, respectively. Aside from that, she could also be seen sitting alone in the Perpetual Church or having a walk around the city with no certain destination.

To satisfy your insatiable desire regarding her potion to success, Henzel shared that she has always been a fan of merely understanding the lessons instead of doing so much memorizations. “The best way to learn is by sharing,” she continues, “but not in the sense of letting others copy my works, rather, letting them understand what we are doing and why we have that certain answer.”

Moreover, Henzel said that she always thinks that she knows nothing or the least so that her mind would be open to greater ideas when a new discussion arises. “Just like a glass. If it is already full and you still pour water in it, that water will just end up overflowing. But if you are like an empty glass, craving for knowledge the world could offer, you’ll learn even small things humbly,” she quoted.

Asked about her study habit, she said that she does a little scanning for minor subjects whereas she patiently studies her major subjects especially the higher Math to the point that she needs to write her notes respectively.

“And one thing, there should be mellow music playing—some kind of a relaxing tool for me,” she confessed.

Bearing the fact that she had been the Summa Cum Laude, her love for pure Mathematics cannot be denied. According to her, Mathematics gave her the hint to look at things deeply. She added that the field is in everything, without us realizing it. To her, life is a problem with certain ends but it is up to us what formula to be used to come up with the ultimate answer.

“If you believe in Mathematics and its concepts, you’ll have the perception that every problem has a solution,” she asserted. On the other hand, if Math was her first love, she reveals that her second and third love were Science and Agriculture and related craft, respectively. Asked about her lovelife, Henzel shared that it is almost three years now since she entertained someone special. Conflict of interests and distance were some of the factors that made them unable to maintain their relationship. Henzel realized that she cannot serve two masters at the same time.

Currently, Henzel works as a Market Specialist in Makati City, leading the way to finally raise their standard of living as well as supporting her siblings’ school fees.

No matter how good you are in something, no matter how skillful you are, no matter how edgy you are among others, if you do not put into actions these God-given talents, you will gain nothing. You will remain the same person as you were yesterday. The kind of values you live today greatly spells the kind of person you become in the future. Indeed, Henzel serves as a model for students who are never afraid to dream that once impossible dream.

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