SANTA CRUZ, Laguna – A graduation picture of a student at Laguna University is making the rounds online.
The photo shows the graduate wearing a toga and posing happily with packs of peanuts, fish crackers, and chicharon (pork rinds) on one hand and a bottle of vinegar on the other.
Jemaima Joy Salas, a 25-year-old Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship student, said she wanted to give tribute to the goods that put her through college.
According to Salas, she’s been peddling goods in her campus ever since she entered college because her grandmother’s income wasn’t enough to sustain her studies. And when her grandmother passed away a few years ago, she knew she had to strive even harder.
“Dream ko talaga mapagtapos ng pag-aaral para sana maiba ko ‘yung buhay namin ng lola ko. Kaso namatay agad sya (It’s been my dream to finish my studies to improve our lives. It’s sad that my grandmother passed away early),” Salas told the Manila Bulletin.
“Pero kahit wala na siya, itinuloy ko pa din dahil ayoko nang maging mahirap at ‘yung pagtatapos sa pag-aaral ang stepping stone ko para umigi ang buhay ko (But even if she’s not around anymore, I still soldiered on because I don’t want to be poor anymore and finishing my studies will be my stepping stone for a better future).”
Salas admits that she couldn’t have done it without the support of her community on campus. For instance, professors encouraged students to buy from Salas because they knew that she needed the income for her studies.
“Kapag nasa classroom na ‘ko, hinahayaan ako ng nga professor ko na umupo sa tabing bintana para ‘pag may bibili, lalapit lang sila sa bintana (When I was already inside the classroom, my professors allowed me to sit beside the window so that when if anyone outside wanted to buy, they would just go to the window),” Salas fondly recalled.
“‘Yung mga schoolmate ko, tumatambay kung saan ako nakapuwesto, tinutulungan nila akong mapaubos agad ‘yung mga tinda ko (My schoolmates would stay where I was stationed and helped me sell all my goods early).”
Now that she’s finally receiving her college diploma on July 2, Salas plans to look for a job but will still continue her small business of selling snacks on the side.