Hello everyone. My name is Anne Ochoa, a Genetic Counseling student from the Philippines, and I'm taking this chance to ask for help to fund my education.
Ever since my father (the breadwinner of the family) met an accident and became disabled when I was very young, we were struggling to make ends meet. I am an only child and I live with my grandmother.
Fortunately, I was able to study because of several scholarships. I went to a public science high school with free tuition, and then later pursued a degree in Biology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman (it was possible because I got a full scholarship from the Overseas Workers Welfare Association or OWWA, after topping their eligibility exam). I also got some financial assistance as a beneficiary of Kalinangan Youth Foundation Inc. or KALFI [a non-profit organization] when I got accepted in one of their leadership programs. I was so grateful for the blessings and opportunity so I studied hard to make every cent count. I graduated with honors (cum laude) in 2015.
My greatest dream was to become a doctor, but medical school was a different kind of struggle. Even though I was able to get full scholarship offers due to my grades, it was evident that I already need to provide and contribute financially to my family. So regretfully, I decided to let go of my dream and searched for a job instead, which was very hard because of the scarce job opportunities for Biology graduates. Eventually, I found a scholarship offer for graduate school which provided monthly monetary allowance aside from the free tuition. I took the chance and fortunately (again), I passed the screening and got the scholarship offer. I discovered that there was a new academic course being offered at the University of the Philippines Manila -- MS Genetic Counseling, which is such a promising field and definitely something I would like to pursue. I said to myself, if I couldn't become a doctor, maybe I can be one of the pioneers of genetic counseling in the Philippines. For a short background, genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized help patients may need as they make decisions about their genetic health.
I was doing great in the first 2 years under the program, but when the financial support stopped towards the end of the second year, I had to find another source of income. I had to take multiple jobs and sidelines to make ends meet, and thus affected my focus in learning. It took me a while to make some progress with my required clinical cases and with my thesis. Right now, I'm still in the process of doing my thesis, and currently struggling to get some funding. My thesis topic is about the communication patterns of Filipino families with Juvenile-onset Open Angle Glaucoma (an inherited but preventable blindness).
The genetic counseling program here in the country has been prioritizing prenatal, cancer, metabolic, and dysmorphology cases, but my work is focused on inherited ocular diseases. I have been offered training and mentorship with genetic counselors in other countries who are specializing in eye diseases, but I don't have the financial means to take the offers.
Mentioning these, I would like to ask for your very generous help to let me reach my goals and dreams. If ever I would be able to finish my studies and take the training, I would be one of the first genetic counselors specializing in genetic and inherited eye conditions in the country. There is definitely a great need for these services because there are a lot of cases of genetic eye conditions leading to irreversible blindness that could have been prevented if the patients were properly informed about their condition, given more attention, and provided with medical options.
Furthermore, genetic counseling services, in general, should be more appreciated because a big part of the overall holistic care of patients (especially with genetic diseases) is making them thoroughly understand their condition and having their psychosocial needs addressed, which are provided by genetic counseling.
Thank you very much in advance.