Rose Ann Obenque, a Wedu Rising Star from the Philippines, was one of many university students who wished to have a high-paying job right out of college. The problem was that once Rose achieved this, she did not feel as though her purpose was being fulfilled. She now urges students to find and pursue their passions. Rose has worked at an aftercare program center for sex trafficking and abuse survivors for 7 years. She shares her inspiring story below.
How do you select a career path and find your passion/knowing what you wanted to do?
Spending time defining the purpose of why I do is one of my go-to steps whenever I am confused or unclear of what my next steps are, especially in making life-changing decisions. Asking myself what gives me joy and meaning helps me a lot in grounding myself to stay motivated and inspired amidst difficulties and challenges.
Rose Ann receiving her “Changing the World” award in Texas, USA in March 2017 as a co-recipient
Describe the current social mission project?
I am currently working as the Director of Program Operations at My Refuge House, a non-government organization which provides aftercare programs for survivors of sex trafficking and abuse in Cebu City, Philippines. Being part of this mission for almost 7 years and having the privilege to work closely with survivors has given me the knowledge and awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence and exploitation in our country. With this, I started to realize how important it is to create safer families and communities for children through awareness. This is why I continue to work with my organization because it does not only provide restoration for the survivors but also ensures that awareness is being spread.
Rose Ann (second left) receiving the grant from Leadership Worth Following in Texas, USA in March 2017 together with the Directors
Why do you want to involve in this mission?
Being in this mission isn’t easy for sure but it has provided me opportunities to see lives of children, families and communities being restored. Despite their pains from the abuses, these children and women are one of the strongest, inspiring and most resilient people I’ve ever met in my life. Their stories motivate me. THEY inspire me. They give me purpose to always believe in hope. And these are the reasons why I want to be involved in this mission of restoring one life at a time.
How is the leadership important to your career life?
In short, leadership encourages me to not be afraid to take leap while reminding myself that I cannot do it alone. I need other people. Leadership teaches me how to shape the lives of others while shaping my own.
How does mentorship support you and your goal so far?
I strongly believe that having mentors in our life is necessary for us to grow and succeed. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having consistent, supportive and mature individuals who believed in me first and helped me push myself to my fullest potentials. My mentors encourage me to maximize my strengths, help me build my confidence, and take courage in everything that I do. In the same manner, they also challenge me when I feel insecure, push me to embrace my vulnerabilities, and guide me to find meaning every time I fail. On top of that, mentors can share their learning and experiences on relevant matters allowing me to respond in an efficient and effective way. Having regular mentorship sessions, both online and in person, provide me with guided coaching opportunities especially in times of confusion during decision-making and affirmation when in doubt.
Any advice to those who are about to graduate from university?
Dreaming of a nice job with a good pay is on the top of most, if not all, university student’s wish list. I was one of those students who wished of having a high-paying job as soon as I graduate from college. But the moment I started working, there is one thing I realized—I had no clear purpose why I am doing the things that I do apart from earning money to support my basic needs. That is when I started defining my own purpose. DEFINE YOUR OWN WHY NOW! Decide what impact would you like to create. Decide how are you going to make a difference even before leaving your university. The small steps you take everyday towards difference in this world, may it be in you work, your advocacy, your passion, your leadership, or wherever you may be can create ripple effects in the community.
Rose Ann with her parents during her graduation in 2009
Your life motto
“All of us are capable of doing something. We are capable of impacting change in this world, no matter how small. We don’t have to be rich, intelligent or powerful. All we need to do is to have a heart that cares, a courageous spirit to take the first step and a life that is purpose-driven”.
Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Women’s Leadership Academy 2016 together with other Philippine representatives
It is Wedu’s mission to unlock the leadership potential in young women and help them strive towards successful careers. Do you see the potential within yourself? Apply to become a Rising Star just like Rose Ann Obenque at http://www.weduglobal.org/apply/rising-star/.