Nova Fossgard is living proof that working hard to better one’s life happens if one perseveres. Fossgard, 46, had humble beginnings. Born in Tukuran, Zamboanga Del Sur to a fisherman father and stay-at-home mother, she started to peddle fish at the age of five. She still recalls how she would sell fish in the market. “You are in the market and you have to shout – fish, fish, bente, bente… Isda, isda, bariles, bariles. Bente, bente,” Fossgard said. She also vividly remembers how she would play mischief at her aunt to get a portion of fish to be sold in the market.
In 2006, the opportunity came at an unexpected time when Fossgard and her husband lost their jobs. Jan was a journalist and finished both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at University of Oxford. Fossgard finished a degree in accounting at Southern Mindanao College in 1991. Desperate to help her parents send her younger brothers to the university, she worked in Hong Kong as a domestic helper right after graduation. “I went through as a domestic helper first, cleaning. Even during day off, I worked part-time,” she said.
Fossgard wants to inspire those in the provinces to reach for their dreams and never give up. For the former fish vendor who managed to finish university and set up a college in the United Kingdom, getting education is the surest way forward. “How can you be successful without education? I kept telling my brothers, education is the best capital for you. Then once you have education, look for what you are passionate about. Then focus on that one thing,” she said.
For those who often doubt themselves and their abilities, she has this advice: “Don’t be afraid. Follow your instinct. Gawin mo lahat ang gusto mo sa buhay. If you keep holding back with your fear, you think may mangyayari? You have to overcome (your fears). Takbo ka, don’t crawl. Always run.”
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