Born and raised on the California coast, the last place Bianca So expected to find herself as a young teenager was in the southern plains. Adjusting to life in Oklahoma was rough for So, but after about a year, she said she found a lot of peace being in the state.
Then, everything changed. At 15, So’s parents sat down with her and her siblings to tell them they wanted to move to the Philippines, her family’s country of origin, to continue a legacy that was started long ago. Her grandfather, a university alum from the days of Gulf Coast Bible College, started a ministry in the Philippines many years prior. The So family set out to revive the churches and K-12 school that he began. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” So said of her family’s move to the southeastern Asian country. “It was different, definitely a culture shock. It’s a different thing to see people who have little to nothing and they’re still fine and able to work every day or
feed their family of eight. Everyone around me was so thankful for the simplest necessities that we Americans take for granted, like clothes and food.”
So attended high school and started college during her years in the Philippines while helping her mother and siblings with the family ministry. She assisted with administrative work and held summer gymnastics programs for young Filippino girls. But after five years, 22-year-old So said she was ready to come home.
“I think I never fully adapted to the culture change,” So admitted. “It just became harder and harder.” She worked tirelessly as an English tutor until she raised the funds she needed to return to the U.S. and her newfound home of Oklahoma. Because her college credits earned in the Philippines didn’t transfer to the American education system,
she knew she would have to start over. So began working days as a Starbucks barista and cleaning office buildings at night, never forgetting to practice the hard work ethic and gratitude she learned from her time in the Philippines.
Eventually, she began working at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, a part of the FAA in south Oklahoma City. Thoughts of receiving her college diploma lingered in the back of her mind, but it wasn’t until she attended an Open House at MACU that she committed to earning her degree in MACU’s College for Adult and Graduate Studies.
“I took the craziest time in my life to go to school,” So said. Not only had the COVID-19 pandemic just begun, but she had recently lost her grandfather, purchased her first home and taken in her young nephew. But despite the insurmountable odds, So has stayed the course: she’s on track to graduate next May with a degree in accounting.
She said without the support she’s received at MACU, none of it would be possible. “Going to school online has been the best fit for my lifestyle,” So said. “I’m able to work at my own pace. I have a lot going on in my life in addition to school, but one thing I learned in the Philippines is you just have to make it work.”
The support she’s received from her professors has been priceless. So said whenever she’s become overwhelmed from everything on her plate, her instructors have reached out to her with godly love, support and encouragement. “Me being here without my family, not very many friends because I’m always on the go, sometimes I get that feeling of being alone. But my professors have never made me feel that way,” she said. “The Christian foundation MACU stands on allows the professors to give students an experience you just can’t get anywhere else. I’m so thankful where God has brought me, from my time in the Philippines to right here as a student at MACU.”