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This gentleman, Press Secretary Sonny Coloma, was my professor at Asian Institute of Management where I was a graduate student for exactly THREE WEEKS before I dropped out in 1992. My mom had already spent nearly US$7,000 that semester and we only got about 20% of it back! I told her I couldn’t handle all the stress and it drove me crazy to have to study almost 24/7.

Of all the things that happened during my brief stay there, I remember Mr. Coloma the most because he bombarded and terrorized us with questions about his case studies, embarrassing the hell out of anyone who wasn’t prepared. Barely 21, partying was always on my mind and I had no interest in being too serious (I was the youngest in that class of about a hundred students!). And so the day came when I had to answer one of his questions – he glared at me and I stood up and stared back at him. I had to think about what he asked which took more than a few seconds and before I could speak, he said over the microphone, “Why am I not surprised that a momma’s boy like you would have nothing better to do in my class? You are completely useless!” Or, words to that effect. It was the first time I had ever been called out like that and I froze. Blood drained from my face and all I could do was say sorry and sit down.

Having just graduated in California where I earned my bachelor’s degree, I was shocked at how I was treated. In the States, the whole college experience was so easy and laid back that even if you missed classes, no one cared. That moment was definitely a catalyst and a turning point. It was the bucket of ice water doused on me that snapped me back into focus. It was then that I DECIDED not to take things for granted and make something out of myself. It was utterly humiliating and I swore no one would ever make me feel like dirt again.

Today, looking back on it, I have to thank Mr. Coloma for his harsh, but very effective approach in that classroom. Though weaker students may still have some trauma left over from his brand of teaching, I have to thank him for helping me make my resolve. I learned more from him than in all the years I spent studying abroad. I am very grateful for my successful life and career and it’s people like him who unknowingly make an indelible mark on others (I can definitely relate!) that I am thankful to have around. Congratulations on all your success too, Mr. Coloma!

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