College graduate shares how she discovered what course she really wants to pursue

College graduate shares how she discovered what course she really wants to pursue

Choosing the course to pursue in college is one of the hardest decisions to face if you're still unsure of what you want to do in life.

While some think hard about it and follow their hearts, others tend to pursue what their parents want them to be or they choose such path simply because of pressure.

One of the latter is Claudine Allyson R. Dungo who took up Biology because she was born in a family of medical practitioners. Later, during college, she discovered what her heart really wants.


Photo from Claudine Allyson R. Dungo

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She wrote:

"Claudine Allyson R. Dungo


BS Biology, Class of 2015

… would’ve been the caption of this photo if everything went as planned. But if you’ve been around long enough, you’d know that that’s rarely the case.

I was always going to be a doctor. I was made for it, they’d say.

I was born into a family of medical practitioners. I grew up surrounded by doctors, and at the age of four I could identify the different parts of the female reproductive system. I knew names of diseases that some people, even in their adulthood wouldn't hear of. Everyone would tell me that I would be a brilliant doctor one day, just like my parents. All my life I believed that and everything I did was to work towards that goal.

In grade school, I was a tomboyish, shy and awkward obese kid whose only redeeming qualities were her grades. I attended an all girls’ school and was never really made to feel like I was good for anything else, so I hinged my self-worth on my academic performance. I worked to get awards every year, so that I could come on stage and be noticed, even for those brief moments. My efforts eventually got me into one of the country’s most prestigious high schools: Philippine Science High.

People seem to have this preconceived notion when they hear you graduated from Pisay. 'Wow, you must be really smart!' or 'You’re probably a nerd!' Truth is, I barely scraped by it. Though I’ve always been fascinated by science, for some reason, it rarely translated to my grades. My sciences, except for Biology were all mediocre, and I nearly failed math a couple of times (Sorry mom. Sorry Sir Sherwin). The only constantly high grades I had to show were my PE, English, and Arts subjects.

But, you know, there was puberty to blame for it. High school was really the only time I felt accepted and learned how to socialize. Pisay is supposed to be really tough. It was a transitioning phase and it was fine as long as I did well in college.

I studied really hard for entrance exams to make up for my sh1tty grades, and in 2011, I miraculously got into UP and my dream course, BS Biology. I qualified for a DOST scholarship, too, and wow! Everything was going as planned!

There was a bright future ahead of me, and it would be only four more years until I got into med school—in the UP College of Medicine, just like my parents.

In the beginning, everything was wonderful. The subjects we were taking up were things I had already learned in high school, and I spent more time socializing than studying.

It wasn’t until second sem of first year that I realized what I had gotten myself into, when we started taking up majors. It was also the first time I personally had to pith a frog, and it bothered me more than I expected it to. I cried into the sleeve of my lab coat when nobody was looking, and I guess, that was the first sign of things to come.

As the semester progressed, I felt more and more uninspired. I failed Math 53, dropped Chem 26 and got a 2.75 in Bio 11. It was a huge drop from my grades in the previous sem, and it was a cause for alarm. I promised myself I would do better. Getting into good med schools was all about having the best grades, and that if I continued down that path I wouldn’t get into any med school—what more, UP College of Medicine.

In the midyear, I did all that I could to focus and got a pretty good grade in Chem 26. I thought everything would go uphill from then, but I thought wrong.

During the first semester of second year, the pre med org I was applying to conducted a Med school campus tour, and I was exposed to what my future academic environment would be. Instead of being thrilled and excited, however, I was left with a sense of dread. The thought of working in the hospital, surrounded by the sick and the dying--which is inspiring to others—depressed me. Despite that, it didn’t occur to me to change my plans. It was too late. I owed so much to my family and the government for subsidizing my studies for so many years. I was bound to dedicating my life and my talents to science. I had spent all my life working to become a medical student, and back then, being a doctor was the only career that I thought would make me worth something. If I didn't become one, I was a failure. It was the only way I could give back to the country. My parents and their colleagues would always tell me that money came easy when you were a doctor, and the sense of fulfillment when you help save a life is unparalleled. It was something I told myself every day to keep me going.

I spent the entire semester acting like a robot—I’d go to class just for the sake of it, do my work dutifully so that I could live out my “lifelong dream.” I slaved in the laboratory, working for the impeding future that I dreaded. It began to eat me away. I started hating microscopes, I started hating test tubes. I started hating the seats in the lab, the old, broken projector, the books, the preserved animals in the bottles, my professors. I started hating plants and animals. I started hating life.

I thought myself to be a failure, that I couldn’t make myself like what I was doing, or that I was simply not good enough for the field I had chosen. Though I was finally getting good marks on my requirements, it took everything in me just to keep it up, and I became miserable. It came to a point that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I purposely stopped coming to class and failed core subjects and got 3.00 in others. I lost my scholarship. I was done. I was one of those “promising kids” who eventually became bums.

I didn’t know what to do with my life.

I spent the next semester taking up GEs so I could easily shift to another course. I spent much of that time alone, as I was ashamed. I couldn't get myself to continue hanging out with my blockmates, and I ended up making excuses not to see most of my friends. I didn't want to have to explain to people what was happening to me until I had some sort of plan. At that point, I had nothing.

It was during that semester that I took up Philosophy 1 and found out that I had an interest and aptitude in analytical and philosophical thought. A classmate of mine asked if I ever considered become a lawyer. I hadn’t.

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The semester ended without me figuring out what I wanted to be, so I applied to four different courses: Landscape Architecture, Philosophy, Film, and HRIM. It was ultimately at the advice of my mother that I chose BS HRIM—that I had the personality for it, and at the same time it offered an environment that seemed to be more suited to me. She was right. The past four years I have spent in HRIM had been the most eye-opening in my life. I found out that I was good in a lot of things I had never explored before: that I had a talent for cooking, that I could participate in eating contests and win, that I could organize parties and make videos and pubmats that passed hotel standards. It was nothing like BS Biology, or the environment I had been in for the past six years before then. At first I thought I would be a fish out of water, but it wasn’t long until I was able to adapt. I began to love it. I would actually owe my love and appreciation of beer and wine to the course :))

It also gave me the kind studying environment that allowed me to engage in more extracurricular activities, like joining a philosophical org, getting into a new sport like figure skating, winning medals at fun runs, writing and even joining a pageant, among other things. It was also in HRIM that I got to take up my very first law subject, HRIM 160 that ultimately made me decide to take up law after I graduated.

But most importantly, it was through this that I began to appreciate jobs other than being a doctor. Though medicine and the sciences will always have a special place in my heart, I have finally accepted that it may not be the career for me. I realized that a job can be just as fulfilling if it was something your heart was really into, and that being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what you should do with your life.That a certain title's

"prestige" doesn't mean anything if you couldn't stand the thought of earning it. Living with a certain idea about yourself your whole life doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with it until you die. It’s never too late.

Watching my batchmates graduate and getting jobs for two years now and seeing younger and younger students each year while I stay stuck has been painful, sure. Looking back however, it has all been worth it. Two extra years is a small price to pay for the all the new things I’ve experienced, for the wonderful people I met along the way, and the realizations I made about myself that I would never have had if I stayed on course. Though I am not graduating with honors, I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been in my life. I’ve come a long way from being the girl who only found worth in her grades, and now I know that I am so much more than the 2.38 GWA on my transcript.

So to all of you who feel stuck, to those who believe they aren't happy where they are, what I can tell you is take a leap of faith. You'll never know what is for you until you try. Things eventually fall into place.

Of course, I would never have gone through this without the amazing people that surround me. I would like to thank first of all my mom Cynthia , my dad Aris and my auntie Ate Teepee who never stopped believing in me and supporting me. My brother Cedric who always listens to my ranting, all my wonderful professors in HRIM, the College of Science (I’m sorry for failing you) and my professors in the humanities who helped shaped who I am today. The people in CrownePlaza HolidayInn who made me realize that I also had a future in the hotel industry during my internship, my orgmates from the UP Philosophical Society, my sisters from the UP Phi Delta Alpha Sorority, my brods from the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity, and all my friends, especially the Princesses from HRIM and The Void. You guys have kept me sane and happy throughout this ordeal.

I would like to thank UP, too, but we still have four more years together. Hopefully not less, hopefully not more.

For real this time,

Claudine Allyson R. Dungo


BS HRIM, Class of 2017

Incoming freshman at the UP College of Law

#gradwaiting #batch2017 #graduation"

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