It's not too late to pursue a dream
Benjamin Franklin once said: "An investment in college pays the best interest."
This quotation aptly describes the life's principle of Ferdinand U. Sarandi, 52, of Brgy. 4, City of Batac, Ilocos Norte who used to lecture his children about the importance of school.
In the end, he himself developed greater appreciation to his advise when, at the near twilight of his life, decided to continue his education believing it is a key to opening greater opportunities.
As the MMSU conducts its 41st Commencement Exercises today, Sarandi indeed has proven that age should never be an obstacle when it comes to reaching one's dream.
Sarandi will receive his diploma today for graduating from Bachelor of Science in Economics. He is among the five graduates under the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) offered by the university and the oldest among the 2,800 graduates.
He first entered MMSU in 1983 to take a degree in engineering. But in 1984, he shifted to a management course at the College of Business, Economics and Accountancy. Then he stopped pursuing college in 1989.
"I stopped because I cannot focus on my studies anymore," he recounted.
Sarandi is married to Amparo Sarandi, a fellow Utility Worker at the Municipal Trial Court in the municipality of Banna. Their daughter, May Ann, is a registered nurse.
He started his job as Utility Worker at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 63 in La Trinidad, Benguet in 2003. Then he transferred to the RTC at the Clerk of Court Office in Batac City in 2011 where he is presently working.
In 2016, Sarandi decided to go back to college. Thanks to the ETEEAP curriculum, which Prof. Elma Santos, chief of the program, offered him and recommended him to take BS Economics based on her assessment on his records.
"I went back to college because somebody told me that undergraduates who stopped for a long time can still return to college through ETEEAP," Sarandi said, adding that he never thought of going back to college because of his age.
"I was happy because through the ETEEAP, I could still attain my dream of finishing a degree," he beamed.
But before he can avail of the program, Sarandi sought the approval of his supervisor at RTC and the support of his family.
Meanwhile, students who avail of the ETEEAP curriculun are given modules. They only go to their respective colleges or departments when they are called to report about their learning process.
"I was able to equally manage my work and studies as well. Whenever I have concerns regarding my lessons, I sought the help from my daughter," he said.
Sarandi finished his degree in economics after three years. He expressed his gratitude to God for enlightening him, to his family and workmates for supporting him all the way, and to his professors at MMSU for their patience and guidance.
"I have no regrets," he smiled. "In fact, I am l very proud because I already finished my college education even if I am the oldest graduate this year."
After graduation, Sarandi intends to continue working at the RTC in Batac City, hoping that he will be promoted to a higher position in the future before reaching the retiring age.
He, too, wants to encourage his friends who have stopped schooling not to give up and continue pursuing their degrees through the ETEEAP, expecting that more returning students will avail of the program this next school year.
"Age cannot be a limit in pursuing one's dream," Sarandi exhorted.