by Jim Bea Sampaga
Paul Joseph Ventura Estioko, son of long-time Hawaii Filipino Chronicle columnist Elpidio Estioko, graduated with distinction Masters of Science in Information Systems from Hawaii Pacific University (HPU).
The 28-year-old Mililani resident received his undergraduate degree in Health Services with cum laude distinction from the San Jose State University in California.
What seems like a major career switch from healthcare to technology, Estioko shared he found his love for tech while working in healthcare.
“Having worked professionally in the Bay Area, it was a matter of time for a person with my aptitude to delve deep into the technology industry,” Estioko said.
“Having gone through medicine, I quickly realized that though fascinating, it wasn’t a field where I’d find the most fulfillment. During my medical studies, I was fortunate enough to work for a startup at combined healthcare and technology and it was here where I realized that technology was the better route for me.”
Estioko was born in the Philippines and has lived in California and Hawaii since moving to the U.S. in 1997 with parents, Elpidio and Delia. He chose to attend HPU because of the uniqueness of its technology program.
“HPU’s program was the ideal mix of business and technical curriculum I thought would equip me with a wide breadth of knowledge that didn’t pigeonhole me into one area in the technology industry,” the graduate explained.
Graduating During The Pandemic
“It was a welcomed change since the major inherently fosters an environment that is conducive to virtual and asynchronous learning,” Estioko said about spending his last year in the master’s program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only downside was the in-person aspect to the whole graduate experience that can’t quite be replaced.”
In Hawaii, graduation ceremonies are filled with leis, airhorns, posters and the graduate’s whole family, friends and relatives. But due to the COVID-19 guidelines, modifications were made to ensure the safety of everyone.
“HPU did a great job in utilizing technology to supplement the ceremony and the staff did well in guiding the student through the whole ceremony, something we never rehearsed for,” Estioko said as he described how smoothly the graduation ceremony went.
His parents Elpidio and Delia, with sister May, traveled from Milpitas, California to celebrate his graduation ceremony. However, only his parents were able to witness him go up to the stage and receive his diploma at as HPU only allows two guests per graduate.
“I feel elated and honored watching my son walk the stage with distinction. I’m very proud of him! He deserved the best accolade on Earth,” HFC columnist Elpidio shared.
“Traveling with my wife Del and daughter May during the pandemic is scary but it’s worth it. Celebrating the honors with my son and other family members is what matters. Of course, we took all the precautions to be safe while traveling.”
To the Future
Estioko is currently in his third year working as a software engineer for a local company. He was balancing graduate school and a full-time job for the past few years and although he recently graduated, Estioko said learning doesn’t stop for professionals in tech.
“As a professional in this industry, being relevant with the trends is critical as technology is ever-changing and improving; therefore, even though my stint with institutionalized education has come to a halt, I consider myself a forever-student who’s always learning,” he explained.
When asked about his advice for current senior students, Estioko shared that taking advantage of your pandemic experience is a great way to boost your employment.
“Going through school — everyday life, really — during a pandemic fosters intangible skills that cannot be taught but can definitely be leveraged practically in a professional setting,” he said. “You’re a pandemic survivor, own it!”
Filipinos in Higher Education
Estioko said Filipino parents should challenge these expectations by having “an open mind and to allow their children to explore the vast opportunities out there.”
While he encourages the children of these parents to “see what’s out there while also acknowledging their parents’ wishes and realize why they have that mentality.”
“As an immigrant myself, I went through the typical medical route but at the same time ran the gamut of different opportunities myself,” Estioko shared. “I don’t regret one second of it because it allowed me to find a career not just a job and I’m blessed to have parents that allowed me to do so.”
by Jim Bea Sampaga