Alyssa Paglumotan, Emerge Graduate

"We became women empowered in our own capabilities and determined to learn more in the field of tech while wearing minimal make-up and corporate attire."

It feels like yesterday when I was offered and required to join the so-called "intensive training for women", sponsored by the provincial government of Negros Occidental, held in Southland College. Since the training was initially meant for 4th year graduating students, I was surprised to be hastily informed to attend the training, due to their inavailability. Being the IT department president during that time, I remember arriving thinking I was late, but I was actually the first one on the venue. Having a lot of prior commitments in academics and extra-curricular activities then, with deadlines coming, I was hesitant to join but I knew I would have felt regretful if I would have given up the opportunity that was placed in front of me. What gave me the push to stay in the training was a talk by our Vice President of Academics, urging us to really consider it. And 15 days later, my classmates and I were no longer the same "girls" that loved K-dramas and wore make-up. We became women empowered in our own capabilities and determined to learn more in the field of tech while wearing minimal make-up and corporate attire, much to our “discomfort” (which, years later, I realize that it has come in handy).

2 years ago I was privileged to be a part of the Coding Women, HTML 5 Application Development training by Emerge Trainings, as a scholar of the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC). Me and my classmates, the so-called "Team Grace", survived the training, despite the odds we encountered during the training. From 35 to 16 students by the 3rd day, we were discouraged and "traumatized" by the first meetings we had with our trainors, Miss Shelly Kero, Miss Lea Pangcobela and Miss Jane Salarda. But surprisingly, we actually grew very fond of them by the end of the training.

As we would say in our native language, "ginkapoy pero ginkaya". Tired, discouraged, but made it. Every day was a struggle.

The training was "intensive" as what I have been told, but it wasn't what I expected it to be. Our class played games, read "Who Moved My Cheese?" with emotions and exclamations, went to a nearby café and placed our orders speaking in English (and still played games), bantered around but at the end of those activities, we improved our grammar, pronunciation and spelling, learned something new and became confident in being ourselves and in our coding skills, as well as in how we presented ourselves as professionals. We learned about managing our time, we learned to be always prepared, caught up with new terminologies and programming languages like C, Java, JavaScript, HTML 5 and others. At first, we thought that 15 days was like a year but as the deadline came nearer, we realized that it was too short considering the bond that we shared. Outside classes, the trainors significantly helped us during the time when the class was encountering its own dillemmas in academics. They were not just our lecturers but also our supporters and friends. That situation etched in my heart as the most unforgettable and cherished memory.

The scale of 0-100 would not be enough to measure how much I would like to recommend this training to others. It exceeds the usual scale, because I have garnered so much in this training. I learned how to fix myself well, gained confidence to speak in public and in my own skills, acknowledged my weaknesses and learned to address them, and generally became closer to being the best that I can be. Through the training, I was eventually able to encourage women in my department to also believe in their skills. I was able to share the lessons to my students and was also able to speak out to my advocacies in line with tech. The practices I learned in the training even became my habits in my professional life. This is really recommended to all; students, teachers, programmers, colleagues, or anyone that is deeply interested in tech. I guarantee that they would never regret the training, would greatly help them upskill themselves, and would greatly change their perspective of what’s in front of them and who they are. "I open at the close", I remember quoting from Harry Potter during the culmination activity of the training. I was never sure of what I would become after this training, but I knew I was motivated to be a lifelong learner, to be one of those women in technology that can inspire lots of other young women in this field. 2 years later, in addition to being an instructor in my college department, I have become an advocate for women empowerment, against climate change, and for many other things I stand for, and currently, by the stroke of luck, fate and God's plan, I was chosen as a recipient of a free 3-month data science scholarship by an organization that empowers women in data science in Manila. If it had not been for Emerge Trainings, I might have downgraded myself, never being able to even try, and never becoming confident. I'm proud to be a testament of how EMERGE Trainings empowered me. I am who I am partly because of this organization. Hoping for them to reach new destinations in inspiring others.

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