BSU Alumna shares success story

By upao - Posted on 26 June 2019

Jayca Siddayao finished BS Agribusiness (2004-2008), MS in Human Resource Development/HR Management (2009-2011) and Professional Education (2012-2013) at BSU. She was a TOSP-CAR and Outstanding Entrepreneurship Student of the Philippines awardee in 2008. Recently, she graduated with honors from the University of Auckland in New Zealand with the degree Master in International Business on full scholarship. This is her story.

Studying abroad is truly an amazing experience. My journey was not easy, but the experience is remarkable. I had to compete with thousands of students all over the world to be admitted to New Zealand’s top university—ranked in the world’s top 100. I also had to compete with many applicants for a full scholarship offer.

For two years, I had to leave my family, friends, and my job in order to discover something new. In return, I met a lot of amazing people with unique stories. I admire their diverse culture and their respect for indigenous people. I am not easily judged by my status, what I wear or what I say. I felt safe and not afraid to share my thoughts. I was able to expand my network. I’ve met hardworking OFWs who are selfless and loving. I have also travelled in breathtaking places around New Zealand mostly for free.

I lived at a friendly university accommodation and received countless academic support. I personally liked the university library. For some international students, it may not be the best library in the world, but coming from a developing country, it is more than enough for me. It is amazing how I could borrow books and access quality journals without having to queue for hours; how I could print resources with just a tap of my ID. I’ve had a lot of things to be grateful for—quality of school facilities (not to mention Wi-Fi is everywhere!), high caliber professors and lecturers, relevant seminar-workshops, and other resources.

Some of the courses have been difficult, but the content has been interesting. One day, I failed to achieve a goal, but I’ve learned how to fail fast. Failure remains failure when we do not learn from them. But if we learn from them, it can be our springboard to success. The professors I have had so far were very knowledgeable and good at teaching. I have no regrets studying at the University of Auckland. I count it as a privilege.

I have spent most of my educational years studying at BSU. It offers quality education at an affordable cost. Coming from a financially challenged family, I relied on scholarships I graduated from elementary.( so I graduated in elementary?) Don’t get me wrong. My parents are the best people in the world. They do their best to provide for us, however, families experience challenges too and we are not exempted. Thank God for using other people and organizations to serve as channel of blessings. My parents would always assert that education is not measured by how big the name of a university is or how expensive the degree is but by how much you get out of it as a learner. Thus, I shall never be ashamed of how I start from small things because it taught me that from humble beginnings come greater things.

First, the benefits of obtaining a degree at BSU is life-changing. It has opened windows of opportunities that a high school diploma cannot provide. A college degree will not only improve job prospects but also the amount of money you make i.e. the likelihood to be promoted is higher. With my Agribusiness degree, I was able to secure two long-term employments from private and public institutions. Thanks to my professors and mentors at BSU. In today’s competitive economy, knowledge is definitely power.

Second, BSU is where I learned to value relationships and the importance of working with people. Sometimes, very few things are achieved alone. Often, you will need people to help you accomplish a task. When I studied Agribusiness, I was involved in numerous group projects. For example, I worked with a handful of students for a feasibility study. It is where I learned the skill of coordinating, planning, and executing with a team. These skills are essential to the nature of my work (project management) and when I studied overseas (I had to manage people and organization). The skills I have obtained back then are very relevant in my field even today.

Finally, I have also learned how to take pride of my Alma Mater and where I came from wherever I go. When you are networking, people usually ask where you live, what degree you’ve studied, and where you completed it. Often, I am surrounded with people who are from prominent universities in the Philippines and overseas in terms of World QS rating. I am always tempted to remain silent and listen. But when these questions are thrown at me, I am always proud to say—i-BSU-ak! (as opposed to ‘ah, BSU lang’) This response always stands out because my answer is usually unique to the group. Because of this, people become more interested about where I came from. Hence, I take this as an opportunity to talk about our life in Cordillera, the culture, language, resilience of people, beauty of the mountains and rice terraces, etc. After all, we have stories to tell and there is nothing to feel inferior about.

What is success? What determines whether you are successful or not? I am quite certain that success differs from one person to another. Success may be pursuing a degree and finishing it (with and without flying colors). Success may be getting married and having a beautiful family life. Success may be building a career and working in a multinational company. Success may be writing your first book that speaks of wisdom or legacy. Success may be founding your own company and driving it to success. Success may be gaining self-confidence after a healthy diet and tremendous work out. Success comes in many shapes. Whichever it is, I have learned one thing through this journey. Genuine success does not come overnight. It takes clear vision, courage, patience, hard work, and a teachable heart.

VISION . Having a clear vision helps you pursue dreams and achieve goals. A vision that is well-defined will open your mind to the endless possibilities of the future and it will help you focus. If you do not have a vision of who you want to be, how you want to achieve, and what you want to get out of it, your drive will erode until life will just become a series of events.

How do you envision yourself 5-10 years from now? It was an essay question in my English 11 class several years ago. Normally, students would take this question for granted like my younger self. But I’ve realized that it is an important question to be answered by someone who is aspiring to be successful. Before my journey to New Zealand has begun, I tried to answer these questions: Where I am now? Where I am going? How do I see myself 5-10 years from now? How do I get there? I wrote my answers on a piece of paper including the possible steps to get there. It allowed me to carefully plan things out and guided me to create SMART objectives–short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

COURAGE.You need courage to be able to start something. When you begin, there are a lot of uncertainties about the outcome or consequences of your decision or action, about whether you will be able to get the support you needed, or about the feedback you get from others. If you wish to succeed, you must have courage. It is a secret ingredient that allows you to take action in spite of fears. It allows you to attempt things that you have not tried, despite your fear of looking foolish.

When I was searching for a scholarship, I was afraid that I may be refused to be given one because of my employment status. Still, I took courage and asked for the support of my company. Unfortunately, the management refused to give me one since I was not a permanent government employee. Even if this was the case, I did not waiver. I asked and the answer was ‘no’. Yet, I held my hopes up and prayed for favor. With persistence, I took courage to accomplish the scholarship requirements and submitted it anyway. Few months later, I received the most awaited Scholarship Offer and that they are willing to support me regardless of my contractual employment status. If I did not have the courage to submit despite my uncertainty and hesitation, I would never have known that the outcome would be in my favor.

Upon receiving the scholarship, I also realized that I knew no one in New Zealand. What if I get lost? What if I fail? The uncertainty was exacerbated by the idea that we have different educational orientation, culture, and language. At first, I had no clue where I was going and how I should behave to represent my country, my Alma Mater, and who I am–a humble Igorota-ready-to-shine. I just knew that I have goals to achieve and I was hopeful to accomplish them. I prayed for courage and believed it was there– and there it was. Little by little, I was able to build network and expand it somehow until New Zealand has become my second home. Furthermore, I have learned that courage is not obtained solely from a single action. It is nurtured through a habit of courageous decisions and action. Truly, if you have the courage to begin, you will find the courage to succeed.
HARD WORK. Hard work is the price you pay to get where you want to be. It is your dedication to the task at hand and the determination that whether you win or lose, you will do your best to get through it. Ralph Emerson Waldo once said, “Shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men believe in cause and effect.” It means that to be successful, you do not wait for things to happen. Instead, you must take action to realize them. You may have the loftiest ideals and noblest dreams, but nothing works out unless you do. And when you work hard, it is best to work with a clear goal in mind. Working hard by itself may exhaust you and shorten your lifespan. I believe that success takes strategic actions in the right direction to get there. Take time to clarify your goal. What are you trying to achieve with your hard work? At the end of the day, it is not just about how hard you have worked but how you have worked on the right things.
PATIENCE. We now live in a world that is driven by instant gratification. Often, people want things immediately or ‘NOW’ and lose sight of what is to come in the future. Fortunately, I was born and raised with a knowledge that anything of great value takes time–whether it is a matter of developing a new skill, building a relationship, developing a project, or launching a business. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Hence, patience is a real virtue. It reminds us to maintain our enthusiasm when pursuing our goals. It teaches us that hard work will pay off and worthwhile goals take time to achieve.

On the other hand, delaying things often will also risk your chance to experience the fruits of your labor. Although delaying gratification and pursuing worthwhile pursuit go hand in hand, not everything that is easy is meaningful; not everything for which you delay gratification is worth a long-term struggle. Balancing the two with a dose of patience will help you balance your life and your passion at the same time.

While studying at Business School, I have learned that our ability to delay gratification is one of the most important ingredients to succeed in life. Warren Buffet practiced the ability of delayed gratification. When he bought stock, he holds on to it no matter how the market performs. Most people would choose to sell immediately when everyone is shouting that the market is going down, except Warren–one of the richest men on Earth.

TEACHABLE HEART . No matter what your age is, success is unlimited if you have a teachable heart. If you want to become successful or if you want to unleash your potential, you must be willing to learn. If you are not teachable, you are bound to constantly fail and make the same mistakes. Worst, it makes you unhappy. If you want to be successful tomorrow, be teachable today. Being teachable requires humility. Be willing to accept correction and be open for rejection. In order to nourish growth, drop the ego and be teachable.

I was selected to be part of the Executive Coaching Program, a career-development partnership between a US based company and the University of Auckland. My mentor could only help me when I am receptive to the insights and experiences she wishes to offer. Similarly, I can only succeed in my field if I am willing to be trained, even when it means humbling myself enough to be corrected as well as to be instructed.

The corporate world is littered with failures of people who had great potentials. However, possessing intelligence and skill sets to perform the job well may not be enough. When people are unwilling to learn and assume that they already know everything, or acting obstinate and refusing to receive well-intended instruction, it lessens their likelihood to genuinely succeed. People with teachable spirit commits to learn something new every day, seek counsel from others and reflect afterwards–and they find joy in doing so. After all, we are never too old or too accomplished to learn. “Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” –Proverbs 9:9.