If there is one person monumentally influential to my decision to practice my engineering degree, it will have to be the person I lovingly call my Ate Kleyr. (I killed Facebook and I was sick yesterday so I am just posting this belated digital greeting now.) It’s her birthday and I cannot just post in another one-sentence greeting. She deserves more than just a single sentence greeting.
As we speak, she is probably deeply engrossed somewhere in Ghana, Africa. She’s already traveled all over Asia and some African countries, having established a good reputation as a GIS consultant. I met her fleetingly during college when I joined UP GE Club but we rarely got the chance to bond there. These past few months, at least we had some bonding moments because of the work we do in common.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw her again outside UP. It was at a major gathering in my old government job. At the time, I was mentally tortured with realizing that I might be in the wrong job. But I did not know where to go. For months until resignation, I wallowed in a general feeling of being stuck and a general fear of not finding the right fit for me, ever.
At two years in the work force then, I was unable to make use of the license I labored to acquire in 2010. I jumped at the chance to work in a publishing house and then the transport sector. While the experience was awesome for me, it did not really allow me to specialize. The completely different industries I dipped my hands into propelled me to turn away from my engineering background.
For years, I never had someone to look up to in the engineering practice. I admired my practicing guy friends, but honestly, their opportunities are not exactly available for women like me. I had been flippant when Ate Kleyr first invited me to join their consultancy team. But I made the decision to try it out last September, and I have not looked back ever since. It was one of the best life decisions I made last year. Some people now try to get me to do engineering work for them because I gained some experience already, but I prioritize the place where I made my engineering debut.
Because I knew that at a time where I had nothing to prove technically, it was only Ate Kleyr who vouched for me and believed that I can be a good engineer despite my first few decisions not to use my license. All I needed then was the right push and a strong belief in my capacities to practice, and she generously gave it to me.
I consider her my inspiration in work and in life. Her very calm demeanor belies the steady but excellent worker that she is. I just know that her professional path is an ideal for me that I can look up to. She travels occasionally but does not go missing for too long. Her nine years of experience as a consultant made her so good at her GIS specialization. During her own board exam, she was one of those who topped.
My other bosses and colleagues had years of experience and also topped the board exams. To say that I am in good company, intellectually and technically speaking, is an understatement. I am with people I can respect because of their expertise: a hard-earned one wrought by years of experience and exposure to different cultures. It was the kind of expertise I’d want to strive for.
That she adopted me as a sister at work and in life is a huge privilege. I hope to be as successful as she is, although I am not as calm as her. (Haha!)
In life, she silently showed an example of how to be many things: a reliable worker, a breadwinner to her family, and a wonderful friend.
She might not know how much I look up to her, but I guess her birthday is the best time to write this and let her know how much her life has made a difference to mine.
Happy birthday, Ate Kleyr! 🙂 Let’s celebrate when you get back. Love you. 🙂