Filipino Topnotcher Engr. Vigel Ramirez shares her story.
There’s a lot of pressure when preparing for a licensure exam. Expectations are high and people will constantly remind an aspiring engineer how important it is not to fail this exam. (“Do not f*** this up.”) A lot of you who are reading this are probably going through the struggles of spending sleepless nights studying and feeling nervous for the exam. Or you’re still an engineering student who is curious of what to expect in the years to come in school.
Whatever field of engineering you are part of, there will always be tips that apply to all. There will always be stories that every engineering student and every aspiring engineers can relate to. For Engr. Vigel Ramirez’ story, we can all relate to her journey in becoming a Geodetic Engineer. She recently passed the Philippine Geodetic Engineering licensure exam last October and is one of the three people who got the top spot in the exam.
In this feature article, Engr. Vigel Ramirez from the University of the Philippines shares her tips in preparing for the licensure exam and her important lessons she learned in college.
Why did you choose Geodetic Engineering?
Choosing BS Geodetic Engineering was actually an “accident.” I was qualified in UP Diliman in DPWAS (Degree Program with Available Slot). When my mom and I went to the Office of University Registration, we saw that BS GE still had available slots. I was thinking, “Oh, I have no idea what this is but the degree sounds cool and challenging.” I also considered my dad as he was from a family of engineers.
Nevertheless, I learned to love the degree and found my passion related with what I am taking.
What was the hardest challenge you had to deal with in college?
I think the hardest challenge that I had to deal in my college life is how to deal with myself. I was really different before I went to college. I don’t know how to be sociable. I was used to being on the top without so much effort. There also came a point when I started questioning my decisions in life. But college changed me for the better. My views in life broadened. I learned that it is much, much sweeter to win when you give your best in what you are doing. Still, there were times when I feel down, but unlike before, now I have friends who guide and support me.
Filipino Topnotcher Engr. Vigel Ramirez with friends (supplied photo)
Were you always an achiever in college? What were your study habits?
No, I am not always an achiever in college. My first two years were the roughest part in my college life. On the first week, I was thinking, “Oh, this will be easy. Just like in high school.” But Math 17 happened. My ego was crushed so hard I remained unmotivated for almost two years. My goal back then was just to pass. Then, after the first semester of my second year, my scholarship was halted because I did not reach the weighted average requirement. That became my wake up call. After that, I slowly picked myself up, got my scholarship back, and did my best until I finally graduated. I might not have reached the minimum average to be a Laude, but at least I can say that I was barely there. And seeing my improvement was my greatest achievement when I graduated.
Let me compare my study habits between the first two years and the remaining three years. During the first two years, I was studying just the day before the exam. I wasn’t paying much attention during lectures. I was also relying on memorization, without caring how this arrived to that and why this became that. And as you can see, this led to a huge disaster. After realizing my mistakes, I tried my best to change my study habits. First and foremost, I learned to manage my time. I tell you, it is very hard for me, but it is a great necessity not only in college but also in everyday life. I had to learn how to prioritize and sacrifice things that, while they make me happy, they also hinder me from progressing. Second, I started paying attention to my lectures. I took notes. I tried my best to understand everything before leaving the classroom. And there is a very important reason for that. To be honest, I am not the most hardworking student out there. Studying for long hours, sadly, bores me. So I have to find ways, and I realized that listening attentively saves my time in studying at home. It also helped me understand how things work, which is very important especially when you’re an engineering student. Third, I didn’t just rely on what our instructor or professor is giving us. Internet is a magical thing, and I learned to use it on my studies. To help me understand how to solve a particular problem, I watched sample problems being solved on YouTube. I also borrowed books on the library. And lastly, while more time for studying is essential, I did not forget to give my brain and body a rest. If I had the time, I go for a jog. I also read novels and manga.
What did you do to prepare for your licensure examination?
The first step I did was to enroll on a review center (Review Innovations). While being in a review center does not 100% guarantee that you will pass, it sure did help me a lot. As I explained before, I learn more by listening to lectures, so attending the review center aided me on that part. They also provide review materials and mock exams. The review center also gave me an opportunity to meet our fellow takers from other schools. Aside from becoming new friends and connections, they also provided me some review materials from their own school. Of course, I returned the favor, and I did make sure to not end the connection after the licensure exam.
The learning doesn’t stop on the review center classroom, so studying became an essential thing. The ideal time to study per day is five hours. When I had nothing to do or I was riding a bus (going to the review center then back home), I studied. I also took note on the expected content of the exam, and focused on studying those. It is also important to know the time when your mind is more focused. One instructor from the review center said that studying in the morning is better, but in my opinion, it depends on the person. I found myself more focused when studying during wee hours. Listening to classical music while studying could also help.
It is also very important to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I ate healthy food and drank lots of water. I tried to get enough sleep, although my sleeping time was not ideal (because I was studying at wee hours, I had to sleep until afternoon). Most importantly, I prayed. A lot. It was not just because I wanted to pass, but because I wanted to prepare myself for whatever will happen. I prayed for strength of heart and will of mind to learn what I have to learn and to accept His plans for me.
What can you say about the exam?
It wasn’t easy. No matter how long I studied, there were questions in which I have no idea where they came from. But instead of panicking, I tried my best to remain calm and answer the questions using context clues and fragments of what I learned during college. After taking the exam, I was on the optimistic side, but I really wasn’t expecting to be on the top.
Who was your biggest supporter in your journey to passing the licensure exam?
My biggest supporter, no doubt, is my mom. She was always there from the beginning, not just in my licensure exam. She would always tell me that I can do all things if I just put my heart into it. She also did not pressure me, stating that she would still love me if I didn’t pass, but she had her 100% trust that I would make it. Since we were a believer of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, she also went to Baclaran* every Wednesday, praying for me and my batchmates to pass the board exam.
Filipino Topnotcher Engr. Vigel Ramirez (supplied photo)
*Baclaran is a neighborhood district known for its famous church, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, where people go to for mass.
What do you plan on doing next?
For now, I will be working in a construction company here in the Philippines to support my family and to gain experience. I am also planning to be involved in a volunteer work during weekends (e.g. Heritage Preservation). I also want to be active in the Geodetic Engineers of the Philippines (GEP), the official organization of Geodetic Engineers in the country.
For the future, I am planning to take Masters about Geographic Information Systems and/or Remote Sensing. I also want to learn more about Photogrammetry and use the skill for my volunteer work.
Are you ready to join the world of #adulting?
Honestly, no. But I am trying. There were still a lot of things that I need to learn. But one thing I am sure of is that I will never get rid of the child in me in my heart.
Filipino Topnotcher Engr. Vigel Ramirez and her batchmates (supplied photo)
What are the five important lessons you’ve learned that you want to share to young engineering students?
First is humility. Yes, you may be intelligent. You may be smart. But somewhere out there, there were many people who were better than you. Being humble saves you from the pain of losing. Being too proud also hinders you from growing. If humility is in your heart, you know that what you are now isn’t enough. You strive to learn more, and you recognize that people around you will help you shape yourself into a better person. Besides, no one wants to deal with a person of huge ego and boastful heart.
Second, always put your effort in what you are doing Remember that as engineering students, we are not solving problems for fun. We are doing these for the safety and welfare of the people. If we don’t exert effort and become negligent even as students, we are risking the life of millions of people.
Third, be nice to everyone, but choose your friends wisely. Choose your friends that will not only bring you but bring all of you, together, for the better. Also, these friends will be your second family, especially when you’re far away from your real family.
Fourth, it’s okay to take a break. If you feel tired and sleepy, then sleep. If you feel hungry, then eat well. Don’t deprive yourself of necessary things. Studying too much might give you good grades for now, but it takes toll to your health. Also, it’s okay to have fun for a while. A healthy and happy mind makes you more productive and motivated.
Lastly, never take things for granted. Always be grateful on what you have—it may be high (or passing) grades, your friends, your scholarship, etc. Never forget that all these things you achieved are not solely because of you, but because of many factors—and most especially, because of God Almighty.