DUBAI: It’s been told over again: Aviation schools are not for weak bones.
And recently, a batch of eight Filipinos, mostly children of highly skilled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – engineers, school officials and a bank manager – proved so.
Christine Mariano, Lourd Jackson Mallari, Christopher James Mirasol, Nazahat Joy Molhem, Ramon II Palon, Romeo Andres Lacasandile Jr., Noel Francis Petero Carbon and John Paul Castro Siron recently made history graduating from Emirates Aviation University (EAU), the region’s leading educational institution for aeronautical engineering, aviation management, business management, aviation safety and security studies.
It was daunting, they said.
“Being an EAU student is both fun and challenging,” said Mariano. “I was able to discover my limitations by constantly exceeding them. There are quite a number of students of different nationalities and for more than 10 years I’ve been studying with people of different ethnicity, so I would say it was no exceptional experience,” she added.
“The inter-cultural set-up always gives fresh perspective on other nationalities. It’s a melting pot of ideas and that makes for a great way to learn,” said Mirasol.
“The students, teachers and support staff were all of different nationalities,” for her part, said Molhem. “When I first started university, there were 11 different nationalities in one class! (Filipinos, Syrians, Lebanese, Emirati, Sudanese, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, British, French, Afghani). Of course, in general, not everyone is used to being around so many different languages and cultures and would be shy at first, but I always found that respect was always there.”
Added Mallari: “You get to take a look at things from another perspective. And you will learn a lot because of the difference in thinking. We solved a lot of problems with a variety of solutions that we arrived at by brainstorming.”
Mariano said among the challenges is the struggle to channel the discipline to balance studies, extracurriculars and social life simultaneously.
“I pulled up multiple all-nighters as I struggled to understand concepts and making it to deadline just because I couldn’t manage my own time. I was able to overcome them with the help of my friends in the university by constantly supporting and pushing each other until the breaking point and my family who has always encouraged me to do my best,” she said.
“A couple of my project studies involved studying a real business in UAE. It was quite a challenge to gather my research,” said Mirasol.
Added Molhem: “Certain resources are hard to acquire as it may be that not many papers are yet written on it or there are security obstacles in gaining the info. This makes the students have to try different ways to gather appropriate and credible information to help in certain assignments, which is fun because it lets you think outside of the box – ‘How can I get this piece of information? Maybe by looking at other types of information and finding a link?’”
“As an engineering student of EAU, studying and giving as much time as possible for one’s improvement is an inevitable task,” said Lacasandile. “I needed to give up some of the trivial things I normally would do so that I could constantly improve.”
How does it feel finally graduating?
“I feel proud and accomplished to finally reach the finish line,” said Mariano.
“It feels so great knowing I’d be on the same industry with my family. This is just the beginning of a new chapter, entering the workforce that is, I feel accomplished to have worked hard to get here,” Mirasol said.
Molhem: “Refreshed, excited and proud of the accomplishment!”
“Awesome… very fulfilling!” remarked Palon.
“It feels like you can almost do anything, and there’s a whole lot of opportunities within our reach it’s just a matter of access,” said Mallari.
Mariano said she will “never stop learning.”
“I plan to further my studies and achieve greater things later in life,” she said.
“I’d say rise up to the ranks,” said Mirasol. “I’d love to do something for myself, too, perhaps make investments. It would also feel good to finally give back to my parents for all the years they supported me through their hard work.”
Molhem: I am being convinced by many people to go ahead and do my master’s degree and I’ve found a great university in the Philippines. At the same time, I am scouting for job opportunities in Dubai, particularly in the aviation industry.”
Palon: “I want to serve my country in whatever way I can. I plan to take an exam for a Foreign Service Officer’s post here in Dubai sometime in the future.”
Mallari: “I plan to repay my father for everything he has given me.”