PWD student defies odds, graduates magna cum laude

THE greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory.

Such was the case of Rouveir-Soon Villaber Herbias, who defied tremendous odds to graduate magna cum laude with a degree in Bachelor of Technical Teacher Education (BTTE) in CTU Naga.

On May 24, Herbias received his diploma on stage, limping after he was struck by polio when he was still a child. It was always a struggle to move around but the inhibition didn’t stop him from dreaming big. He then took to facebook his narrative on June 1, which already earned 2,000 reactions and 770 shares.

He completed his elementary studies in Quezon Elementary School in the mountain barangay of Quezon in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. He stayed with his relatives in San Carlos but later joined his parents in Minglanilla, Cebu to attend Tulay National High School.

In high school, he became aloof as he shied away from friends and classmates due to his condition. Tragedy befell the family when his father died of liver failure. With his father gone, his mother took his place as breadwinner.

Life became more difficult for his family as debts started accumulating; hence, he was the only one among his siblings to finish high school. He wanted to pursue civil engineering, but his mother could hardly support his needs.

“I became an out-of-school youth for four years. I became hopeless and it seemed my dreams were fading away.”

To help provide for his family, Herbia practically accepted any job that landed his way—cleaning sacks for 25 centavos each at a junk shop; working as a photocopy machine operator for six months; sewing nylon sacks for P30 each and finishing 10 to 14 dozens in a week; repairing clothes especially denim pants; and helping his grandfather.

“I assisted him in constructing houses. It was very tiring, but at least the pay was better compared to my other jobs,” he said.

The idea of returning to school came when Herbia was encouraged by one of his uncles, who suggested to look for scholarships at the Cebu Provincial Capitol. Eventually, he got it after passing the examination.

He tried to enrol at CTU Main, but he never made it to the deadline for civil engineering. He was advised to enrol in CTU Naga, but the degree program was not available there. Encouraged to take up BTTE major in Drafting instead, he said: “I had no idea what Bachelor in Technical Teacher Education was all about. I didn’t dream of becoming a teacher.”

After years of struggle, Herbia, fueled with grit, finally completed his studies. “I am very grateful because I passed and graduated with latin honors, which I didn’t expect.”

For him, one should put dreams over disabilities./CTUMain UPO