Age is of no consequence for Rhoda Lira-Reyes. As a 65-year old, she will let neither age, old study habits, nor lack of funds dash her dreams to strengthen the delivery systems of basic education to the children in her barrio.
Already an accomplished registered nurse, she still pursued nursing education to pass on her skills and experience in order to address the dearth of nurses. Even as far back as the time she was a young faculty member of a nursing school, she turned her sights on the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in hopes of one day joining its elite student body. It was only after 45 years as an educator, and upon retirement to her province in the wake of the pandemic, was she able to explore the possibility of taking a postgraduate course at AIM when she chanced upon an invitation to a free orientation for the Master in Development Management program.
“Suffice it to say, I strongly believe the program was the vehicle towards the fulfillment of one of my dreams: the improved delivery of basic education in the barrio where I grew up. The pandemic pushed us to leave Manila and return to our ancestral home. This move further gave me more insight into the need for strengthening educational delivery to the children of our barrio,” shares Rhoda.
MDM is an intensive twelve-month program conducted by the Stephen Zuellig Graduate School of Development Management with the goal of honing future leaders in creating solutions and policies for the management of challenging development environments. After 32 years, the program was redesigned to address the demands of a rapidly changing world by educating its cohorts to scale social impact through social entrepreneurship, transformative policy implementation, and impact-first investing.
Rhoda found that the courses offered in the program resonated with her need to be empowered. However, despite her unceasing aspirations and gumption, Rhoda was challenged to shift her paradigm to keep up with the work in a digital sphere. She realized that not only was she learning about change, but she had to adapt her own perspectives, strategies, and tools to cope in the classroom; therefore, becoming her own agent of change.
Rhoda offers this advice to applicants for the program: “Let not your age become a measure of your productivity, and your lack of experience your reason to turn away from challenge. Look into your heart and take courage from there. Your desire to make a difference in the lives of others through the impact projects you are developing will keep you steady along this path. Take advantage of this opportunity. Embrace the challenge. And give glory to the Creator by working to make yourself the best person that you can be.”
She reminds cohorts to keep in mind what Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
AIM, the pioneer postgraduate institution in the Philippines and considered a premiere school in Asia, with its topnotch international faculty and intensive programs, continues to make dreams come true for retirees like Rhoda.