Apriliz studied hard so that she could enter the Leadership Development Program. She was registered at the Kids Haven Student Center and became one of the center’s young leaders. She led the praise and worship team, taught in Sunday school, was a cell group leader, hosted events, and was active in all the child development center activities. She was also a leader at church and in school.
Apriliz received tons of awards in high school, including the Journalism Excellence Award, Outstanding Achievement in Campus Journalism, and Radio Broadcasting Champion. She also placed fifth for editorial writing and placed seventh in news-writing contests. Apriliz was also the school paper’s editor-in-chief.
Apriliz and her mother thought that her good grades in high school and sincere involvement at the child development center would qualify her for the Leadership Development Program. But in 2008, Apriliz applied for the Leadership Development Program and wasn’t accepted.
“I was not at all sad.”
“My mother encouraged me to still pursue my dream of college and so I enrolled at the smallest college nearby that we could afford.”
For the first semester, the school fees totaled P15,000 (U.S.$349). Apriliz’s parent’s income: zero.
Her father, Sionga, and mother, Aracel, are church planters. They have been moving from one small church to another, and none of these churches were financially stable enough to support them.
“We are used to transferring from one place to another because of my parents’ ministry. We have lived in mountain areas, provinces and cities. We don’t have a house to call our own. The house we live in right now was built by my father and grandfather 15 years ago on land owned by a family friend who is now letting us live there as caretakers.”
When Apriliz was about to enter college, she explained that because her father had no church plant assignment they were completely penniless. But her mother is resourceful and she thought of a way to send Apriliz to college: cook delicious banana chips and sell them around the neighborhood.
“I was very encouraged by my mother.
“Her ambition was that one of her children would become a teacher one day, and she wanted that to be me since she said she saw I was very active at church since I was a little girl.”
In elementary school, little Apriliz used to invite all of her classmates to church. She was the class president and her friends followed her.
“I love having lots of friends.”
After high school, Apriliz was accepted to the Institute of Science Education at Mindanao State University, the biggest and most important school in Marawi City. The problem: It is a Muslim school and Apriliz missed being allowed to talk about the Bible with her classmates.
Apriliz failed her math and science classes and she was forced to transfer to a smaller, public college where she became one of the top students.
When the first semester of going to the new, smaller college finally arrived, Apriliz and her mother raised almost P10,000 (U.S.$232) from selling banana chips. Kids Haven Student Center also helped out by paying the remaining fees. Apriliz went to college and everybody was happy for her.
But after a short time, Apriliz’s family ran out of money again.
“I helped my mother cook and sell more banana chips, but it was hard work.”
Eager to learn and receive a college education, Apriliz continued attending her classes although she was not able to pay fees for the second semester. She needed a down payment of P1,500 (U.S.$35), but she did not have that much money.
This time, Aracel, Apriliz’s mother, gave up.
Apriliz decided to apply again for the Leadership Development Program, but mother and daughter were not very hopeful since Apriliz was not accepted into the program the first time.
On her second try, Apriliz was accepted. She is now a first-year Leadership Development Program student getting a bachelor’s degree in education at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City. Her tuition fees and school expenses are more than double those of her first college.
Thanks to the Leadership Development Program, Apriliz now attends one of the top universities in the Mindanao islands of the Philippines.
“I also wanted to study public administration but, like my mother, the program leaders suggested that I continue pursuing education because I love teaching Sunday school and am very passionate towards children. To me, education is a calling.”
Apriliz was finally accepted to the Leadership Development Program, because, according to the program’s specialist in the Philippines, Apriliz can articulate herself well.
Besides the financial subsidy, Apriliz is very happy about the leadership training the program provides.
The Leadership Development Program in the Philippines conducts a yearly leadership congress where program students from all over the islands come together for training. Apriliz attended her first leadership congress last summer where she learned many things about herself.
When asked what would have happened to her college dream if she had not been accepted to the Leadership Development Program, Apriliz responded by saying,
“I would be studying using the money earned from my mother and I selling banana chips.”
Today, Apriliz’s mother is still selling banana chips, and because of that, Apriliz’s sister is now also in college, working on a bachelor’s degree in international relations.