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How This Mom Of Two Became The First-Ever Summa Cum Laude Of UP Clark
PHOTO BY COURTESY OF CHRISDIE MYCEL RUZOL
  • Becoming a mom is challenging on its own, but Chrisdie Mycel Ruzol proves that parents can still achieve their dreams, through faith and with the support of people around them.

    The 28-year-old mom based in Mabalacat, Pampanga shared her journey of graduating Summa Cum Laude all while being a wife and mom of a 4-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

    "It’s exhausting and rewarding at the same time," Mycel told Smart Parenting. "Juggling the roles of a mom, a student, and a wife is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. But it is also rewarding because despite giving so much of myself in motherhood, I still get to practice and enjoy my individuality by being a student."

    "It's a very humbling title, kasi it becomes an opportunity for me to testify yung work ni God sa buhay ko. Hindi sa dahil magaling ako, but it's a title that God gave me para ma-glorify ko siya."

    She finished the course Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology at the University of the Philippines (UP) Clark, which is an extension program of UP Diliman in Pampanga and Olongapo.

    "Nung first day of classes, sabi ng program coordinator sa UP Clark na wala pang nag-su-Summa. And from that day, sinabi ko na sa sarili ko na gusto ko na mag-Summa." She added, "Along the way, na-realize ko, ang hirap pala!"

    We asked her: What would it take to become a mom and a student achiever?

    It takes determination and hard work

    Mycel said she had to stop her college studies in 2011 because of financial problems. She was taking up travel management at the University of Santo Tomas when their family could no longer afford her tuition fees.

    At age 18, she worked as an ESL Instructor in Ortigas, transferred to a BPO the next year, then worked abroad in Abu Dhabi, UAE. "I chose to work abroad at age 20 because I was the family’s breadwinner at that time and I desire to help my family," she said.

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    After five years of working and providing for her family, she met her husband Vergel in a church abroad. "We dated for a few months, but I decided to go home to pursue my studies again, leaving him in Abu Dhabi to settle some personal matters. However, after 3 days, to everyone’s surprise, he went home to the Philippines because he already decided that he wanted to build a family with me. And that’s what we did."

    They got pregnant with their firstborn, and Mycel said it wasn't part of their plan.

    "Wala pa kaming one year into the relationship nung nabuntis ako. Nung nanganak ako, most of the struggles were between the two of us na mag-asawa kasi we weren't ready."

    She said she also had her own battles. "Parang naisip ko, this is not what I wanted. Kaya ako umuwi kasi gusto ko mag-aral, tapos ngayon, nag-aalaga ako ng anak."

    It takes a village

    "The reason why I was able to pursue my studies again after having my own family is because God has been so good and faithful. He blessed and surrounded me with people who will enable and encourage me throughout my journey," she said.

    What helped her along the way is having a strong support system. "Hirap na hirap ako. I was wrestling with the thought na ito yung season ko ngayon, sabi ng mga mentors ko, "This is your season, you embrace it, you grow in it para sa next season mo mas ready ka."

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    Mycel said she is grateful to her husband and family for supporting her dreams. 

    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF CHRISDIE MYCEL RUZOL

    "Yung support niya is yung pakikinig sa akin, pag-encourage sa akin, pag stressed ako ramdam niya, ilalabas niya ako para mag-wind down, supportive sya sa akin kasi he knows weakness ko ang mag-manage ng  household."

    Aside from her friends, Mycel also has a group of moms whom she meets weekly for encouragement in their motherhood and wifehood journey.

    It takes inspiration

    Mycel said she is grateful that her course is somehow related to parenting, and so she used her learnings and her experience as a mom to excel. However, she encountered challenges when they shifted to remote learning due to the pandemic.

    "Nung nasa school, focused ako on my role as a student. Pero nung dito na sa bahay, walang boundaries, talagang you're on your own. Mahirap lalo na nung una, conventional type of student ako, pag nag-aaral ako gusto ko walang nagdi-disturb sa akin, lagi akong rejecting sa una kong anak."

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    "Napaka-unappealing pero ito po ang talagang naglalarawan ng itsura ko sa bahay kapag nag-aaral. I skip baths sa ngalan ng deadline," said Mycel. She was pregnant in this photo, and her eldest then had a fever. 
    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF CHRISDIE MYCEL RUZOL

    She added, "I am very emotional, minsan napu-project ko yung frustrations ko sa mga anak ko, but then because of what I learned from school, I'm also able to repair the situation. We reconcile, we talk."

    She gave birth to her second child when she was about to start her thesis on her fourth year. "Talagang nandun na ako on the verge of giving up, magpahinga muna ako, pero people around me those who are involved in my dream, sila nagpupush sa akin na, "kaya mo yan.""

    It takes purpose

    Mycel shared what kept her going is really the purpose why she started.

    "I really wanted to land a good profession kasi ang dami kong gustong tulungan, especially in terms of pag-aaral. Dati, nung natigil ako sa school, gusto ko makatapos kasi gusto ko makatulong sa ibang estudyante na na-experience yung na-experience ko dati na ang hirap na gustong-gusto mo makatapos pero wala kang resources. So excellence in education is the way I see na magiging possible yun."

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    Mycel with her constant college friends
    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF CHRISDIE MYCEL RUZOL

    Moving forward, Mycel plans to prepare to take the boards, and work on the side.

    Tips for parents who want to pursue their dreams

    Mycel shared some of her learnings to parents who also want to achieve their dreams - may it be education, career, or business.

    1. Involve your partner

    This is very important for Mycel. "Make it a mutual decision between the two of you so that you will help each other in every aspect of your schooling and parenting," she said.

    2. Involve your kids

    For her, kids should be involved too. "Explain to your kids the importance of what you will be doing. What worked for me is helping them set their expectations of me. On a daily basis, I would talk to them about my schedule, and we will build their routine around that. For sure, things won’t always go as planned, but at least we had something to start with."

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    3. Surround yourself with people who are for you

    "No matter how deep the desire is, if the people around you won’t help, pursuing your studies again will be more challenging. Although schooling will be demanding, prioritizing our kids is still the most important. If we cannot attend to their needs personally at all times, we have to make sure that there are people who will – it might be grandparents, relatives, or even trustworthy helpers. Then we fill in the gaps whenever we can," she said.

    Mycel assured parents who feel like having children is hindering their dreams, "This is only a season, hindi forever na puyat ka, hindi forever na paulit ulit yung routine mo sa bahay maglilinis, magwawalis, magluluto, hindi forever na aalagaan mo yung anak mo."

    It takes gratitude

    When asked what value being a summa cum laude has given her, she said, "Anyone can get that title when they focus and give their best, but it's really the character na na-mold in you to become a summa and the character that you will portray in being a summa." 

    She concluded, "It's a very humbling title, kasi it becomes an opportunity for me to testify yung work ni God sa buhay ko. Hindi sa dahil magaling ako, but its a title that God gave me para ma-glorify ko siya."

    With her eldest child already in school age, Mycel said she will not pressure her to become an achiever too. "I learned from my husband, "Wag mo siya ipressure kasi hindi siya magiging katulad mo." It's a long process of letting go of my expectations, and learning and accepting that others have their own pace."

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