Mom returns to school after 17 years


STA. BARBARA—Poverty is often used by many to explain one’s inability to have an education but not for this young mother who pursued her dream after 17 years, who not only earned her degree but came home a magna cum laude.

Verna Mercado, 34, a mother of two and a pastor’s wife who went back to school after 17 years graduated magna cum laude, the first to receive such distinction since International Colleges for Excellence in Urdaneta City was established 15 years ago.

A resident of Barangay Minien East this town, she said she has fulfilled her dream to finally earn a college degree with honors in spite of her struggles as a student, a mother and a wife.

Mercado earned her Bachelor in Secondary Education degree major in Technology Livelihood Education and also earned a Leadership Award as well on graduation day, March 28.

“They said I made history for our school, and our school officials are so happy with what I achieved,” she said.

The third child in a brood of seven, Mercado stopped schooling after high school due to poverty. Her father is a passenger jeepney driver and her mother a plain housewife.

A young bride at age 20, she spent her time between home and church (her husband is a pastor in a Born Again Christian denomination). She is thankful that her husband, Pastor Junie Mercado, helped her do household chores and take care of their two children while she studied.

In her graduation speech, Mercado recalled how one relative discouraged her from going back to school, saying she was already old and should instead remain a plain housewife. “But I thank God because He surrounded me with people who love, care and encourage me to pursue my dream” she said.

She said she initially had a hard time coping with the demands of her studies “because I felt like I was starting from zero again” to the extent she found herself crying during her first week in college.

“It was difficult to adjust especially that my classmates were teenagers and I was the oldest, like their mom,” which was obvious to her classmates they called her “Mother Earth”, “Mommy” or “Ate”.

She started out as a working student and later earned an academic scholarship after she met the required high grades in her first semester, and she never looked back since as a scholar.

As magna cum laude, she had to maintain average grade between 1.25 to 1.43 throughout. “I really value education. This is a dream fulfilled,” she said.

As an act of gratitude, she accepted a teaching job in her school to start in June while reviewing for her Licensure Examination for Teachers in September. (Eva Visperas)

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