The recipe for success

By Terence Repelente

EAGERNESS REWARDED Thea never lost sight of what was most important EAGERNESS REWARDED
Thea never lost sight of what was most important

Maria Althea “Thea” Nicole Supleo hails from a public high school and was able to enroll in Miriam College’s MAE (Miriam Adult Education) through a generous voucher program of the government. Most of her life, she and her family had no permanent home and tuition would usually go to rent. Now they still live with relatives but with the honors she has just received, the future is starting to look very bright for her. She just finished a two-year program of Cookery NC II and Bread and Pastry NC II. As the batch valedictorian, Supleo gave the graduation speech for the entire MAE graduates last April 3.

In an exclusive interview with the Philippine Panorama, Supleo looks back and tells her MAE story. “I graduated from Fortune High School, a public school in Marikina City. But since they do not offer Senior High School by that time, I needto find a school where I can take the track that I want,” she says. “Then I found MAE.”

PROUD parents share Thea’s important moment PROUD parents share Thea’s important moment

According to Supleo, she found out about MAE through a memorandum it sent to the division office of Markinina City, stating that they were offering SHS without tap-up. “So, our school sent that message to us that they’re going to have an orientation in Marikina Legislative Office then I attended to that, I knew the desire and the heart of MAE to help poor people like us,” she says. “So, without hesitation, I took the entrance exam in MAE then I choose Technical Vocational Track, which includes Food and Beverages Services NCII, Bread and Pastry Production NCII, and Cookery NCII.”

She chose these courses, she says, because of her eagerness to become a chef someday. “And by studying in this track, I know that our skills will be enhanced by MAE and they didn’t fail us.”

Like any other student, Supleo had struggles, some academic, some economic, but all were now in the past as she overcame every single obstacle on her way to graduation. “As a person, we all have weaknesses, and my weakness, which I was struggling with when I was in Miriam, was being in an environment that I think I don’t belong in,” she says. “We all know that Miriam College is one of the most expensive universities in Metro Manila. Most of the people in Miriam are people who’re rich.” In her first day in MAE, she shares to have encountered people that have branded shoes, gadgets, and many things that she could only dream of. “But that day I realized one thing: “Hindi ako nagpunta dito para makipagsabayan sa kanila, nandito ako para mag-aral at simulang abutin ang mga pangarap ko sa buhay (I did not study here to compete with them, I am here to chase my dreams,” she says. “By that time, I worked hard, and I stopped underestimating myself.”

JUST THE BEGINNING Thea knows that graduating is only the start of a greater challenge JUST THE BEGINNING
Thea knows that graduating is only the start of a greater challenge

Supleo was an unfazed student on a mission to achieve her goals. As a student, she believes in the importance of prioritizing her studies, but not necessarily disconnecting herself from the outside world and stop living the life that she’s used to. It’s all about setting the right balance and being in the right state of mind, she says. To achieve this, she has imposed three rules upon herself, also a reminder whenever a hint of doubt visits her thoughts: “One, every morning, always pray to God and ask for help in bring out the best version of yourself. You will not notice that the day will finish that you’ve done a great work. Two, do not compare others’ ability to yours, you have differences and always remember that there is something in you that others don’t have, that’s what makes you unique. And three, never forget that all things are possible.”

Supleo is currently processing her papers in Miriam College. She’s going to take a bachelor of science in entrepreneurship major in culinary arts, to officially start her journey as a chef. Who inspired her to dream about being a chef? “My grandmother. She raised her six children by selling kakanin in front of my mom’s school,” she says. “She also sells different dishes just for her children. Now, I will continue what she had started, and I assure that we will succeed in this field.”

For other students who find it hard, or still struggle, to achieve their dreams and excel in school, Supleo gives her piece of advice: “We should not be afraid to take risks. We need to get out of our comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to face challenges and difficulties in life. In fact, those challenges and difficulties, which you will encounter, can be your stepping stone to strive against all the negativities in life. Always remember that giving up is never a choice.”