10 Years and Now I’m Graduating: The Story of a Poor Working Student who Persevered

Inspiring story of Jay Torres Solitana photo from Jay Solitana's Facebook account
Inspiring story of Jay Torres Solitana photo from Jay Solitana's Facebook account

After 10 Years in College, Working Student-Son of Driver and House Helper Will Finally Graduate

Want an inspiring story of determination and perseverance? Here is Jay Torres Solitana, a student of the University of the Philippines – Diliman (UP Diliman), who, like so many students of poor families in the country, never said no to the difficulties brought about by poverty.
Jay is a son of a driver and a house helper.

Jay Torres Solitana
Jay Torres Solitana

Despite struggles that he had to go through, he pushed forward, even if it meant juggling school responsibilities as a student and work as a call center agent. It took 10 years of hard work, will, and self-determination to finally graduate this June 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication at the country’s premier university. Despite the problems he had to endure, he didn’t hold any grudge against his poor parents; instead, he used their disposition in life as a source of motivation and as an inspiration to dream big and just continue with the fight.

Inspiring story of Jay Torres Solitana photo from Jay Solitana's Facebook account
Inspiring story of Jay Torres Solitana photo from Jay Solitana’s Facebook account

Read the story of Jay Torres Solitana’s 10-year triumph below.

Ten years. Yes, it was a looong wait but I don’t care because I did it in UP!!! Growing up in a family with a limited income, which is barely enough to sustain our needs, was really hard. I already knew that getting into college back then is close to impossible given the situation I’m in. I had to strive hard to finish high school to help the family but my hopes of earning a college degree remained, at least in my dreams. 

2006-I didn’t pass the UPCAT. It was May that time where all public universities are done with their respective examination periods and plans of continuing my studies was really uncertain. But I guess God wanted me to keep going and sent an instrumental being to push me hard to dream big. My high school research adviser, Mr. Alfredo N. Sarabusab, dragged me from university to university to inquire for admission and if my memory serves me right, he even paid for the fares and my examination fee just to pursue college. (Thank you Sir! Sobrang life mentor kayo!) I got a scholarship and took up Nursing in FEU. Practicality in choosing my course was crucial because my end goal back then was just to have a stable job para makatulong sa family. After two years, I had to stop because my parents can no longer support my education. Pero never kong bliname sina Mama at Papa because I know na kahit sila ay hindi nabigyan ng chance to even enter in college. They were also deprived of their rights to education. I was devastated real bad and it felt like the end of the world for me.

2008- I applied for a job, earned well and finally naparamdam ko sa parents ko yung convenience ng life. Something na they haven’t experienced before, yung tipong wala kang aalalahanin sa paglubog at pagsikat ng araw. I paid the bills, learned how to budget the money I have, napagawa ng unti-unti yung bahay at nakabili ng iilang appliances na mapaglilibangan nina Mama at Papa. I can say na kahit papaano naachieve ko na yung mga plans ko before and being the undergrad I am was not a hindrance at all. It was all diskarte, sipag at tyaga. But there are times na I felt like I should reward myself with all the hardwork. Gusto kong regaluhan yung sarili ko and I thought earning a college degree is the best gift that I can give to myself.

2012- I decided to give it another shot. I paid my remaining balance in FEU with my savings and applied for transfer to my dream university, the University of the Philippines. I was overjoyed because I got accepted. Nadaan ko sa charm at humor si Ma’am Mel during the interview. LOL.

Hindi ko iniwanan yung job ko dahil I still need an income to support my educational expenses. I love my course. I had fun the entire time while learning so much. But it was not a smooth road. It was really hard being a working student. There were a lot of times like I want to give up.

Hindi ko na minsan alam kung matutulog ba ako dahil sa puyat o gagawa ng requirements? Paano ko mapagkakasya yung 6 absences not to fail the subject in times na hindi ako makakapasok?

Maiintindihan kaya ng mga kagroupmates or ng mga professors ko yung shortcomings ko? Boy, the struggle was real. But I survived. I was backed-up by a lot of people loving and believing in me that I can make it, and with God’s grace, I did.

Before entering UP, I thought that I’m doing this just for myself and for my family, but UP has taught me to always give back to the community, to our country. Being a UP student is not just a title or prestige you can brag to anyone but it is a huge responsibility you need to fulfill even after leaving the university. Na laging ialay sa bayan ang karangalan at kahusayan.

I know that I’ll be able to do this the best way I can anytime soon.To the Filipino taxpayers, thank you! Thank you for helping me to get the best education this country has to offer. Rest assured na hindi masasayang ang bawat sentimong pinaghirapan ninyo.

To all the teachers in the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts especially to Ma’am Mel, who played a big role in this success, mula sa puso, maraming salamat po. Labyow Ma’am!

To UP Speca, friends, acquiantances and classmates. Salamat sa pagiging pamilya at sa masasayang memories na I’m sure hahanap-hanapin ko. You all occupy a special room in my heart.

Sa lahat ng katrabaho ko at naging supervisors sa Teletech, thank you.Thank you for keeping me around despite my countless lates and absences. HUHU Thank you sa mga nagmamasahe sa likod ko, nagtitimpla ng kape para hindi makatulog (Mommy Easter) at nagbibigay lakas loob in times na gusto ko nang sumuko.

To my high school friends and teachers, thank you sa pagmamahal at sorry sa shortcomings. smile emoticon

“To all the students na huminto, nagtatrabaho at alam kong nakikibahagi sa kwento na ito, laban lang tayo. Walang mahirap sa taong may pangarap! :)”

To my family, Papa, Mama , Kuya at Nico, only better things from here. Salamat sa pagsuporta sa mga desisyon at pangarap ko sa buhay. Salamat sa pagmamahal. Love you!

And to our dear Lord, thank you for blessing me with the above people in my life. I trust you because you had bigger plans for me than I had for myself.

And here I am, ten years after failing UPCAT, finally marching in June wearing the highly coveted sablay in UP Diliman. Thank You UP!

One piece of advice. NEVER GIVE UP!

Proud na anak ng isang jeepney driver at kasambahay! So proud of you parents!

Jay T. Solitana
2012-78821
Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication
University of the Philippines – Diliman

#TenYearsDeserveALongPost #Gradwaiting#Sablay2016 #KeepGoingWorkingStudents

One of the best gifts someone can give his/her parents, besides unconditional love, is a diploma. Because having been able to let someone beloved finish school is an achievement only parents would understand. But seeing someone graduate from college with head held high for all the years-long hardships he/she had to go through from finishing projects and getting an all-nighter to making sure his/her parents needn’t worry about paying for education is very commendable.

So much respect for this guy! You are one inspiring person to the younger generation nowadays!

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He loves to share news and other interesting facts that he finds online. He is an internet slave and he loves photography.

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