Ma graduates together with her 2 children
This one calls for a triple treat.
Lorelei Aquino, a 44-year-old homemaker, finally obtained her most coveted undergraduate degree from the University of the Philippines on Sunday — and happily marched in her “sablay” (graduation sash) with two of her three children, who graduated along with her.
“I have always dreamed of returning to school to get my very elusive diploma,” Aquino, who earned a bachelor of science in business management degree, said in an interview after the commencement exercises at UP Diliman.
“But the golden opportunity and the chance for me to return was hard to find,” she added. “But now, with my two children also finishing their degrees, I really grabbed the chance to graduate with them.”
Her children, Mark Romeo and Lorielle Ann, who studied chemical engineering and biology, respectively, and who both graduated cum laude, praised their mother for her feat that’s worth emulating.
“I think my mother is the embodiment of honor and excellence,” Lorielle said. “For me, excellence is not just about getting unos (1s) and high grades. It’s about pushing yourself and continuing to persevere in spite of the cincos (5s).”
For Aquino, the journey to getting her undergraduate degree from UP was more than two decades in the making.
It began in 1990, when she was a business management major in the UP Diliman Extension Program in Clark, Pampanga province.
But when she failed her calculus class in her last semester in 1994 — while she was also pregnant with her first child, Mark Romeo — she decided to drop out of school.
But it was also the circumstances at the time that she chose to temporarily halt her studies.
At UP Clark, she met Roel, an economics major, whom she fell in love with while she still grappled with calculus.
Fear of math
Twenty-four years and three children later, she decided it was time to pick up where she left off and contend with one of her biggest fears: math.
As Mark and Lorielle approached their final year at UP Diliman, she decided it was time for her comeback.
But the second face-off with calculus at UP Clark in 2017 came with challenges that were not related to square roots or integer functions.
Aquino had to divide her time between her family and her studies, which entailed commuting from Bulacan to Pampanga and back, twice a week.
“My classmates were younger than my youngest child, and my teacher was just a little bit older than my eldest son,” she said. “It was so challenging as well that the students’ culture now is so different compared to when I was in college.”
Her son and her daughter, who incidentally were great at math, became her tutors. But she still earned one failing grade after another in the exams, and was once placed on conditional status.
But with the assurance of her husband and children, Aquino was just not willing to let this go.
The following semester, she pursued the same class in Diliman, where her two children were already in their last year.
On her third try, she finally aced the class and got her diploma.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.