The faculty members and staff of Davao del Norte State College were waiting in the sideline for the tail end of the students’ processional. As the last few sets marched, cheers got louder when a familiar face arrived. Mr. Dionisio D. Padrogane, or “Kap” as he is fondly called by his colleagues in DNSC, is one of the 1,189 graduates for the Class of 2022.

Last July 15, 2022, he finally got his diploma for the Bachelor of Science in Disaster Resiliency and Management (BSDRM) under the DNSC – Davao del Norte Learning Institute Special Program for Adult Education. DNSC-DNLI SPAE was initially established to help in the upgrading of human resource of the province of Davao del Norte, concentrating on delivering a special curriculum for personnel who had spent years in public service but were not eligible for promotions because of the lack of educational qualifications. It still carries this purpose today but has now expanded from one to three special program offerings; Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA), BSDRM, and Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship (BSEntrep).

Kap has been serving DNSC for more than thirty years, earning his Diploma in Fisheries Technology in Davao del Norte School of Fisheries (DANSOF, now DNSC) in 1986. He has a long history with the College and it is safe to say that both parties have mutually benefited from the relationship.  Kap was part of the pioneering scholars with free lodging and uniform when he first enrolled for the diploma program and later returned the favor when he was recruited to be part of the marine fisheries crew when the College was selected among the seven schools nationwide to implement the 6th IBRD Fishery Education Development Program.

He was sent by the College to attend a Fishing Technology course in Cavite City in its early years and applied his learnings as a Fishery Productivity Technician when he got back. Today, he works as a Launch Patrol, guarding and helping in the conservation efforts in the DNSC-managed Marine Reserve Park in the Island Garden City of Samal.

He is a father of seven children, acting as a role model for them. When asked what was the motivation behind his timeless pursuit for education, he responded that he wanted his children to do the same. He shared that his older children couldn’t finish their schooling and he was hoping to turn the tide for his younger ones. He wanted to show his children that if he could do it, a breadwinner and a senior citizen in a flexible learning setting, then nothing is impossible for them.

He added that he never thought of leaving DNSC because his skill sets matched the needs of the College and he found joy in his works, especially in the MRP, assisting researchers, locals, and visitors. He chose to enroll in the BSDRM program because he felt that it would be impactful as he and his fellow MRP workers continue to observe Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). He talked about how the faculty members in DNSC, whom he sees as his lifelong mentors, had made him understand the importance of each person’s role in protecting and saving natural resources. No matter how small or ordinary his chores were in the MRP, it felt like he was a part of something important.

Kap was all smiles and oozing with gratitude whenever he was greeted during his graduation. He recollected that there were times when he really had to push himself in absorbing lessons virtually because he wasn’t used to the online set-up and he would prefer a face-to-face hands-on demonstration of their topics. But he highlighted that it all boiled down to his depth of willingness to learn and improve in his chosen field.

Little did he know that an act which he did for his own children would inspire other children and students, as well as members of the DNSC community. His story proves that learning has no age limit. It only needs an open mind and a persistent heart.