Jureen G. Bautista was so glad she didn’t give up on her dreams. As a young girl from Roxas Town in Zamboanga del Norte, Jureen believed herself to be a dreamer who wanted a bright future for herself and her family.“It is an individual’s built in desire to be successful and move forward to more massive success. There are no limits to the things we can achieve in life. Everything starts with a dream. Without a vision of where you want to be in life, you will never get there,” she shared.

However, when she received the news of her beloved father’s passing, the dream she built seemed to shatter before her eyes. The loss of the family’s breadwinner brought sorrow and challenges to the young girl who dreamed of finishing her education.

“I was hopeless and lost. I was on the verge of giving up my dreams, but God didn’t let that happen,” Jureen expressed.

Her faith in God and drive to pursue her dreams led her to a window of opportunity. With the help of the Local Government Unit of Roxas and its Public Employment Service Office (PESO), Jureen was admitted as a beneficiary of the Special Program for the Employment of Students or SPES of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 9.

The Special Program for Employment of Students is DOLE’s youth employment-bridging program which aims to provide temporary employment to poor but deserving students, out-of-school youth, and dependents of displaced or would-be displaced workers during summer and/or Christmas vacation or any time of the year to augment the family’s income to help ensure that beneficiaries are able to pursue their education.

“I was still in high school when I started working during summer until I graduated in College. I really wanted to earn money, hoping it could help me out in achieving my dreams.

All the experiences I had as a SPES baby equipped me and gave me a glimpse of what the real world is. Because of that I am forever grateful to be part of this program. I am now a Registered Medical Technologist by God’s grace.,” Jureen shared.

However, it was not all butterflies and rainbows. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Jureen was already working in a prominent laboratory in Cebu City which also administered testing for COVID.

“Everything was so different. Our work became too perilous. Even with all the personal protective equipment we wore, our lives were still at risk. Every now and then anxiety attacks are still kicking in. Our emotional and mental health became too unstable. So I decided to take a break and went back to Zamboanga del Norte,” she recalls.

When asked about what advice she could give young dreamers like her, she said:

“No matter how goal driven you are, sometimes life’s challenges beat you up and leave you feeling lost and hopeless. The truth is things seldom go according to plan. However, this shouldn’t be the reason to quit and to give up on your dreams. No matter how murky the future is, never ever lose sight of your ultimate goal. Continue dreaming, and you will get there in His time.”

Still anchored in her faith, she is still grateful for the opportunities that came her way. Presently, Jureen is now employed in a laboratory in her hometown.