[OPINION] Leaving the medical profession to become a journalist

Jene-Anne Pangue
A preacher in church once said, 'Do not just step into the open door, walk into the open door. If you’re afraid, then do it afraid.'

I’ve always wanted to tell stories. 

This has been the dream ever since I was young. 

But I didn’t go to journalism school. Instead, I took a medical course – a decision I regretted for the most part. I thought that pursuing such an endeavor would keep my parents proud of me. 

Back then, I was an achiever – I always received awards at the end of every school year – but I was never proud of my achievements. Yes, I was happy to hold them, but they were not enough to make up for the dream I had yet to fulfill. People would commend me for these awards, but little did they know that I was displeased with myself.

Worse, everyone seemed like they knew where they’re going – except me. 

Then, a year after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck my hometown of Tacloban, I learned about Rappler and its work reporting our nation’s stories. I saw how it enabled and built communities of action through it’s civic engagement arm, MovePH. I saw how it was geared towards making an impact and creating ripples of change. 

How I became a mover

My involvement with Rappler and MovePH started when I became a Mover in 2014. (WATCH: Why be a Rappler mover?)

As a survivor of the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in the Philippines, I found hope in telling the stories of my community through the #StoryOfTheNation campaign. Together with other campus journalists and movers in Tacloban City, we shared the survivors’ stories of courage and hope, which we believed must be amplified amid disasters.

I then became a Rappler intern in 2016 while I was employed full-time as a medical technologist at a tertiary hospital. I worked in two different worlds, both far from each other. To me, it was a balancing act between honoring my parents’ sacrifices and pursuing my passion for journalism.  

Even after my internship, I remained engaged with MovePH by writing reports on the commemoration of the super typhoon’s onslaught, the visit of Pope Francis to the country, and the local elections, among others. (READ: Rappler movers amplify local voices in the elections

Despite the attacks thrown at Rappler in the past few years, it was Rappler’s promise of uncompromised journalism that strengthened my resolve to hold the line. This is the same reason I wanted to pursue journalism and civic engagement even when I did not feel qualified. (READ: This is the best time to become a Rappler

I continued to work as a medical technologist and a part-time teacher in college for 3 years. All the while, I kept my hope of someday becoming a full-fledged Rappler. 

It was a constant battle against fear and uncertainty. I thought that pursuing journalism would be impossible, until one day, I got tired of all the doubts and feelings of unworthiness that crippled me from going after what I love. 

Leap of faith

A preacher in church once said, “Do not just step into the open door, walk into the open door. If you’re afraid, then do it afraid.” 

When I heard this, I was reminded of the many opportunities that I could’ve taken back then. But then I thought, I have no bandwidth to cry over spilt milk. I should stop complaining and start believing that things can actually happen. A few hours after I heard the preacher say those words, I sent my resume to Rappler without really seeing any available position to apply for. 

To cut to the chase, when I learned that there was the slightest opportunity for me to be accepted for a job, I filed my resignation at the hospital where I worked. People said it was a hasty decision – to give up the security of my job as a medical professional and the future it promises for me abroad.

My resignation would take effect a month after submitting. I was even given the chance to withdraw it for fear that things may fail. But it was the support of the community around me, of the people who knew that I’d been wanting to pursue this dream for so long, that encouraged me to press on. In fact, they even celebrated with me even before the results of the job interviews were out.

I will never forget that day when I told my supervisor of my firm decision to resign, because a few hours after that, I received an email that I got accepted for the new job.

Sometimes, it’s hard to pursue something when you know you’re going to leave a lot behind. But instead of dwelling on the possibility of what could go wrong, I remained excited and hopeful for the future.

I couldn’t say for a fact that my entire working experience as a medical technologist was put to waste the moment I decided to shift careers. I take everything as a learning experience. In fact, I have always believed that life comes in seasons and unfolds in chapters. There are certain situations in life that I need to get into and circumstances that I have to go through – these are all meant to prepare me for what’s coming next. 

I started working at Rappler. I learned a lot from the people who mentored me at work, and I remain continuously inspired by the communities I’ve engaged with.

It took me faith to believe that dreams can come true no matter how impossible situations can be. When I left my job at the hospital and pursued my current work, I saw the bigger world out there. There are indeed far more amazing things ahead than any we leave behind. 

I realized that it really takes faith to believe in the greater things in store for every dreamer and a great God to make it happen at the right time. 

Both clarity and courage are important. And the voice inside of us should never be drowned by those around us. 

What makes me hold on to the work I do is not the privilege that goes with the job, but the responsibility to tell stories that matter to the community, to inspire courage and take action, and to create movements with impact

It takes courage to pursue a dream. And there’s just so much more that lies ahead. – Rappler.com

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Jene-Anne Pangue

Jene-Anne Pangue is a community and civic engagement specialist of MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Her involvement with Rappler started when she became a mover in 2014 and an intern in 2015. Since then, she learned the importance of building communities of action for social good as she continues to work with movers and doers across the country.