job August 22, 2021, 11:00 p.m.

By Gabriel Orendain

Did you know that out of 100 Filipinos who reach college eligibility age, only 23 will enter college? And of those 23, at least 19 will drop out in the first three years, 77% of them due to financial constraints? Of the four graduates, only one will be considered fit for work. To address this alarming situation, the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) introduced the Extended Higher Education Equivalency Academic Program (ETEEAP) 20 years ago, which assists employees who have not completed their studies by granting them academic credits for professional experience and professional achievements. awareness. INSPHERO (Inspiring Hero) builds on ETEEAP to empower millions of Filipinos not only to complete a college program, but also to increase their employability. INSPHERO wants to instill in its graduates a strong sense of gratitude that they can express by paying with more love for God through their families, dedication and loyalty to their businesses, and with care for the communities of which they are a part. One of these inspiring stories from INSPHERO is that of Innah Celine Hurtado, Deputy Director of Optum Global Advantage and President of INSPHERO Alumni. Here is her story: “God’s plans are unfolding in the most beautiful way” is what I heard my sister say when I spoke candidly about my college degree. I had always dreamed of getting a degree, especially since all of my siblings graduated from college. But the older I got, the further away I felt from achieving my dreams. Eleven years ago my mother was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a disease that causes weakness in skeletal muscles. The night before she fell into a coma, she waved to me from her bed and whispered, “Nak, pakabait ka ha? She fell into a coma the next morning and two days later passed away. When she was still alive, I was never able to tell her my promise. And so, a few minutes after she quietly passed away, I whispered to her, “Mom, I’ll be fine and finish college.” The loss of my mother coupled with my gender identity struggles brought me to the bottom. I didn’t know how to keep moving forward. My life then unfolded in a cycle where I just tried to figure things out until I gradually started to feel that my dream would be just that – a dream. Fortunately, I realized that God had wonderful plans for me when I stumbled upon a college completion program offered by INSPHERO, a social enterprise that provides Filipino employees who have not completed college the opportunity and help to achieve their dreams of graduation. After signing up for the program and starting my college graduation journey, I realized that there were many stories similar to mine. Mitch, a single mother of two, and Amiel, a father of one, put their dreams aside to take care of their children on their own. Both had to take on several side duties while working in the BPO industry. Jessy’s father died when she was nine and her mother was ill. She decided to drop out of college to look after her two siblings, a nephew and her mother before continuing her studies after a 15-year hiatus. Kimmy had to leave family, relatives, friends and home to work abroad. Jeff had to miss many classes because of his health. Several girls became pregnant when they were very young and had to drop out of school to support their families. These are just a few of the many faces and names of those who face common challenges: juggling full-time jobs while facing financial hardship, caring for family, school demands, digital overload and the global pandemic. INSPHERO made it possible for us to keep our promise of graduating not only for ourselves, but also for parents and other family members who also wanted us to conquer the college arena. Additionally, the importance of social enterprise lies in its ability to bridge the gap between our lost dreams and the chance to make them come true through independent learning, something we all thought was lost in time and had been buried. among so many of our regrets and assumptions. Obtaining a diploma has opened many doors for us. With the strength and courage rediscovered through this experience, we are now able to pursue with courage and passion the next goals of our life. Currently, 64% of INSPHERO graduates pursue further studies (masters and certification courses), 32% are in the direct process of career development or promotion, and 100% of its alumni are promoting from the program. The INSPHERO Alumni association is operational, instilled with the INSPHERO value of gratitude: “It is not happiness that makes you grateful. It is gratitude that makes you happy. Alumni share the same INSPHERO Pay Forward philosophy by extending their support to future prizes. We all came together with different stories of how our dream of getting a college degree faded or was lost. But we all have one thing in common: We took the opportunity as a challenge, and with courage and perseverance, we made it happen. If you want to know more about INSPHERO and how to continue your college education, send an email to [email protected]

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