By Genevieve Balance Kupang

Though International Women’s Month (March) has just come to a close, I would like to greet and celebrate the inspiring women who contribute, persevere, and achieve something for humanity every day! Here is to honoring and uplifting women everywhere!

As a facilitator of adult learning, there’s a constant joy in serving as an educator. In the narrative I’m about to share, however, the tables were turned. While I believed I was imparting knowledge, skill, and values, I became the student. As someone who thrives on learning life’s lessons, I’m humbled by the example set by my graduate student, an awarded educator and leader, Agustina B. Cayat. She is a student of Doctor of Philosophy in Administration and Supervision. The images before you are a powerful illustration of her relentless pursuit of knowledge. Her dedication, fueled by unwavering grit, is truly remarkable. Let’s raise a toast to Agustina, a shining example of perseverance! She joined our class and after two hours, she said “Due to a low battery, I might not be able to finish the class session with you until 8:00 PM.  Instead of joining you from home, I’m currently on a mountain slope in Itogon.” Touched by the images she sent, my creative juices penned this article.

In the bosom of the Cordillera mountain range, amidst forestry terrain and pristine landscape, lies a testament to the unyielding dedication of today’s scholars. Here, where the air is crisp and the silence profound, a lone figure sits against the backdrop of nature’s majesty, her laptop glowing softly in the nautical twilight and approaching nightfall.

Agustina’s Uphill Climb As A Determined PhD Student

As the mode of classes is a combination of face-to-face and online sessions, every other Saturday, Agustina, a Ph.D. student brimming with determination, faces a unique challenge: attending her 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM online class. As the late afternoon sun dips below the horizon, she embarks on a short, but purposeful, trek. Her destination: the mountain slope, the only place with a strong enough signal to connect.

By the end of her session, the flickering flames of a bonfire illuminate not just the mountainside, but also Agustina’s online classroom, a testament to her unwavering spirit and resourcefulness.

Yes, as the world around her fades into darkness, Agustina remains steadfast in her pursuit of knowledge. Despite the obstacles posed by unreliable connectivity and the absence of modern conveniences, she perseveres, driven by a passion for learning that knows no bounds.

For Agustina, every online class becomes an adventure—an opportunity to defy the limitations imposed by her remote location. Yet, amidst the challenges, there is a sense of tranquility—an appreciation for the simplicity of life in its purest form. As Agustina gazes into the distance, enveloped by the warmth of the bonfire and the invigorating embrace of the mountain air, she finds solace in the knowledge that her efforts are not in vain.

Following her trek, Agustina finds a spot and logs in for her 5:00 PM online class.

Agustina’s story is but one example of the resilience and dedication exhibited by countless remote learners around the world. In the face of adversity, they sit or stand tall, their spirits unbroken, their thirst for knowledge unquenchable.

So, the next time you find yourself struggling with a poor internet connection or the distractions of everyday life, take a moment to reflect on the perseverance of graduate students like Agustina. For in their journey lies a lesson—a reminder that with determination and resilience, anything is possible, amidst the solitude of the hill and mountain.


About the Author:

Dr. Genevieve Balance Kupang serves as the Dean of the Graduate School at Baguio Central University. She is a Leadership Team Member for the Exceptional Woman of Peace Award at Pathways to Peace, a UN Peace Messenger Organization. She is the Chair of Special Interest Groups (SIG) of the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI), an incorporator of the Asian Social Institute, and a lay member of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of CBCP.