Name: Jessica Icay
Uncertainty of the future and familial struggles were two of the most significant life experiences that I had to overcome to be the person I am now. I was born and raised in the Philippines for the first thirteen years of my life going back and forth with familial struggles. My mother had to work abroad to help our financial instability; therefore, I did not see her for seven years of my life. Issues later arose which caused separation between my parents. Therefore, my father left the family without any sort of communication after this was revealed. This took a significant toll in my life, where it was hard for me to trust anyone and form meaningful social relationships. However, over the years, my family was able to help me overcome this fear of uncertainty and fear of forming relationships and friendships. Their never ending support and positive outlook inspired me to look at life in a completely different way. This experience enabled me to become a committed person to anything I put myself into, whether it is through education or social relationships.
Coming from this background, SSF was able to enhance and provide me the qualities of independence, commitment, modesty, and leadership. I had the opportunity to be an event coordinator and progress to be an ambassador for this organization, which enabled me to see the significance of these social connections and life long friendships. I am able to learn how to live cooperatively with many people from different origins and appreciate these differences. Moreover, becoming more independent and committed to what I want to do in the future became more concrete because of the driven and inspiring people surrounding me as well. Together with these successes, however, comes the humbleness that one must achieve while acquiring these accomplishments. Meeting many residents from different houses, coordinating with SSF staff, and seeing the organization’s objectives enabled me to see the beauty of each and every experience I encounter while appreciating where it all began. I believe that appreciating the roots of every hard work is the most enlightening quality that I acquired from my SSF experience.
When I came into SSF, everyone mentioned the term Education for Life and I had no idea what that meant. However, the longer I stayed, the richer this term became. The term Education for Life has three dimensions: personal, social, and professional development. Personal growth includes the amount of everyday tasks that we will need when we enter life after college. This includes learning how to clean every single corner of the kitchen, every hair in the bathroom, or even the pens that get stuck under the sofas of the living room. It also includes learning how to do your own laundry, cooking for more than twenty people, and finding different modes of transportation to get by every day. These factors make us appreciate the significance of independence and how each chore can help us understand how to cooperate with other people and also learn more about ourselves. Second, Education for Life highlights social growth. Being in SSF gave me the opportunity to experience a 5000-mile road trip to the Grand Canyon with residents from my house and other houses as well. We travelled to eleven states and crossed three time zones during spring break and this has caused me to experience unforgettable moments and create deep and meaningful friendships. Also, being an ambassador allowed me to enhance this growth by influencing people to see the significance of attending events and encouraging their houses to form these long lasting bonds. I always tell people that they will remember college not just with the amount of studying they had to do but to how these friendships formed. Lastly, professional or academic development is also part of this motto because SSF provides the financial stability to pursue dreams that was once unforeseeable to me. Residents also get to experience meeting the president of UF, the president of Santa Fe, the president of SSF, and the board members of SSF to engage and enhance professional conversations. SSF residents also have various professional career paths which help us network and make professional affiliations amongst each other.
Once I graduate from the University of Florida, I aim to pursue a Doctor Nursing Practice (DNP) and become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I aim to use this degree to do missionary trips in different Southeast Asian countries, including mine, to advocate for health promotion and illness prevention strategies to families and children with low-income status. Growing up from the Philippines, my extended family always travelled to specific locations like orphanages and retirement homes to provide them with food, supplies, and entertainment. Ever since then, I knew that this was something I wanted to do for my future but relate it with the need for health care services. Moreover, seeing the passion that the SSF staff and the overall organization have to help college students pursue their goals reminds me to appreciate where I come from and the opportunities I have encountered to inspire and help other people who are in need. Without SSF, I would not have experienced a deeper meaning of Education for Life, a richer connection with my career path, and a fuller appreciation of a family away from home. #SSFlove