In the bustling city of Baguio, just a few years ago, Howard Chan found himself navigating the challenges of being a young college student, juggling multiple jobs to support his education. One notable stint was his role as a service crew member in a local fast-food restaurant. However, Chan's journey was far from easy, marked by financial struggles and societal judgments.
From Service Crew to Law School: A Remarkable Journey
Eight years later, Chan stands as a testament to the triumph of tenacity. Despite the ridicule he faced as a service crew member, he successfully navigated through college and law school, ultimately passing the Bar exams and earning the title of a lawyer.
Chan's background paints a picture of a working-class family. With five siblings, an unemployed father, and a mother working as a waitress, financial strain was a constant companion. The family's hardships were exacerbated by his father's reputation as an alcoholic taxi driver, limiting job opportunities.
Service Crew Challenges: Beyond the Typical Job
Working as a service crew member in a fast-food establishment is often considered a typical part-time job for students. However, Chan's experience shed light on the harsh reality faced by those less fortunate. The physically demanding nature of the job, combined with handling difficult customers, created a stressful environment. And the pay? Not much - P21 per hour. Despite the challenges, Chan chose the closing shift to accommodate his morning and afternoon classes, highlighting his commitment to education.
Beyond his role in the fast-food industry, Chan took on various jobs, including working as a house painter for a local real estate company. These experiences showcase his determination to explore diverse avenues to finance his education.
Academic Pursuits Amidst Adversity
Chan's aspiration to become a teacher after college led him to resign from his fast-food job. However, faced with the harsh reality of a tough job market, he ventured into tutoring Koreans. Unfortunately, the financial strain persisted, forcing him to borrow money from his girlfriend just to take his final exams.
Undeterred by setbacks, Chan worked as a call center agent for two years. Yet, the realization struck him-this wasn't the life he envisioned. Returning to law school at the University of the Cordilleras, he maintained his status as a working student.
Navigating Personal Loss and Professional Challenges
Tragedy struck on the final day of exams during his second year when Chan's father passed away. This personal loss, coupled with academic stress, led him to transfer to the University of Baguio to complete his law studies.
The challenges persisted in his professional life, particularly during his call center employment. Transferred to a financial account with a high volume of irate callers, the stress reached a breaking point, prompting Chan to resign in pursuit of a healthier work-school-life balance.
The Role of Online Jobs in the Pursuit of Dreams
Introduced to online jobs by a friend, Chan became a virtual assistant. Online gigs became his lifeline, supporting him through the remaining years of his law school journey until his graduation in 2014.
A Lawyer's Commitment to Justice and Workers' Rights
Now a lawyer, Chan is determined to give back to society. Contractualization, a major concern affecting workers in the Philippines, stands out in his advocacy. Despite existing laws, Chan emphasizes the gap between legal provisions and the practical challenges faced by ordinary workers, often leaving them with no choice but to seek alternative employment.
In a recent blog post, Chan outlined his goal of being a "judicious and moral lawyer." For him, the focus is not on being the smartest or most prominent but on embodying qualities that he admired during his times of struggle. He envisions being an agent of change, using the law to vigilantly champion the rights of those who may not have the means to fight for themselves.
Conclusion: Howard Chan's Journey, A Lesson in Grit and Hope
Howard Chan's journey from a struggling college student working odd jobs to a successful lawyer is more than a personal achievement; it's a lesson in resilience and hope. His story encapsulates the reality of many striving individuals facing financial challenges and societal judgments.
In the midst of fast-food kitchens, call centers, and online gigs, Howard didn't just navigate work and education; he conquered them. Each challenge became a stepping stone, shaping him into the lawyer he is today.
As we reflect on Howard's experiences, it's a reminder that success often comes from the hard-fought battles against adversity. His commitment to giving back, especially in championing workers' rights, adds a commendable layer to his narrative.
Howard Chan's story isn't just about the triumph of an individual; it's a testament to the enduring power of grit and determination. In a world where obstacles are inevitable, Howard's journey stands as a beacon of inspiration for anyone striving to turn dreams into reality.