Rochelle's Extraordinary Story

Surviving Poverty, Sexual Abuse
and Teen Pregnancy

As a child, Rochelle dreamed of becoming an elementary school teacher. Growing up in the Philippines, she looked up to her teachers not only as mentors, but as second mothers.

Rochelle describes her own childhood as challenging.

Finding Courage

"Unlike other kids, I did not have time to play and have fun because there were so many household chores and responsibilities to undertake. My mother worked abroad and as the eldest, I also had to be the mother to my three younger siblings, one of whom has special needs."

Her difficult upbringing turned even darker, when she was raped by her father and became pregnant with his child at the age of 14. She lived in fear and shame as he continued to rape her over and over again. Wanting to be strong and protect her siblings, she found the courage to tell her aunt, who helped Rochelle file a rape case. After three years in trial court, her father was found guilty and sentenced to a three-term life imprisonment.

Moving Forward

Rochelle is on track to graduate with her bachelor's degree in education in 2021
Rochelle is on track to graduate with her bachelor's degree in education in 2021.

Determined not to let her past keep her dreams out of her future, Rochelle keeps moving forward to pursue what she calls her “great vision.” “I believe that with [my faith]—combined with hard work, patience, self-confidence, determination, and people who trust me—my dream to get a college education and become a teacher is within arm’s reach.”

Rochelle, who had to put a hold on her own schooling between her elementary and high school years due to financial constraints, does not want the same fate for her own child or her siblings. “I have started to build dreams for them too,” she said. “And as soon as I graduate college and land a job, I will help my mother put them all through college.”

Rochelle is currently working toward a bachelor’s of science degree in education and is scheduled to graduate in 2021.

I will be more than a teacher and a second mother to my students. I will help them find value in life no matter how difficult it can be … and help others the way kind-hearted people are helping me now.

Watch Rochelle share her powerful story


Soroptimist relies on the generosity of individuals like you to improve the lives of women like Rochelle. Your support gives women the help they need to overcome obstacles—like poverty, domestic and sexual violence, and addiction—and follow their education dreams.

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