One University of Guam graduating student is proving that it’s never too late to graduate.
UOG Senior Steven Terlaje is not what is usually considered a traditional graduating student.
Having graduated high school back in 1998, he went to college but had a few setbacks.
Now, after 23 years, he’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration this Sunday.
Terlaje tells PNC that his on and off college journey wasn’t an easy one.
“I grew up with a single parent, that was my father. And my sister, she got pregnant early so on the home front, I had to make a decision. What was going to be the optimal choice in order to help my household at the time? So I had to go and find work in an economy where there was real job scarcity. I lived through that hard time. I did find some odd jobs,” Terlaje said.
He added: “I actually worked in a bar one time and I don’t even drink alcohol. But I found the job and during the time when bars could stay open ’til 4 am, I would be heading home by 6 o’clock in the morning and I had to live through this a few years until I landed some okay jobs where I could work during the day and go to school off and on … a semester at a time … one or two classes.”
Terlaje says another reason for his delay in graduating was that he developed a successful career in the insurance industry. He married his high school sweetheart and was traveling the world
However, in 2013 tragedy struck. He lost his father and his mother a year later. Along with his wife, they lost about 13 family members within a few years.
Terlaje said he often wondered whether or not he fulfilled what he needed to do in life.
In 2016, he says he fell in love with school and decided to go back
“So I walked into the SBPA office and I was just standing around and just trying to figure out what I’m going to go, wondering what I need to do to get this done, and this one individual spoke up. She knew me by face and she knew my name and was my professor. I just had one class with her and she remembered who I was. She brought me into the office and said I’m going to be your advisor and she just laid everything out to me and it was so inspiring because she ironed out my path and I looked at her and said, for some reason, this is the woman that’s going to carry me all the way to graduation so I applaud her and to this day, she’s my advisor,” Terlaje said.
Terlaje credits his wife as his biggest motivation and reason as to why he went back to school. He wanted to make sure that she was comfortable and able to provide for her.
She graduated from UOG back in 2004 and wanted them both to be college graduates and UOG alumni together.
Terlaje says that he will also be graduating with his niece and feels blessed to know that a family member went through the college experience with him and will fulfill the same aspirations he had
UOG will confer degrees to a record-breaking 386 graduates at its Fañomnåkan 2021 Commencement Ceremony this Sunday.
The ceremony will be the first in-person commencement that the university has held since December 2019.
The graduates have completed their degrees with more than a year of online learning since the pandemic struck in March 2020.