“I’m allergic to Math!”…or so I thought.

July 4 – I saw a post in one of my Facebook groups for women about a call for Data Science Scholarship and the deadline was on the 15th. I don’t really know what Data Science was but I got interested on “Big Data” last year that I bought the book AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee after I saw his interview on CNN. I never got to read the book but encouraged my husband to read it! Haha! We both ended up not reading the book – yet. I watched The Great Hack on Netflix and that was, at the most, what I know about Data Science.

Back to the FB post, I got curious and checked out the site and tap the Apply for Scholarship button. I didn’t know what I was signing up for except it says, there are 4 stages in the application and I need to finish the first 2 stages by July 15 and then wait for the email if I qualify to stage 3.

Stage 1 involved answering a questionnaire about my background and my intention for my application. It was quite long but it also gave me some time to think about my “why” for applying. Aside from my curiosity & interest in Data Science, I want to see myself on the other side of being a creative entrepreneur and use my left brain this time. 🙂 This pandemic heavily affected us, creative entrepreneurs, financially because our stockists in the malls are closed and for many months, we cannot even ship orders even if we have online shops.

Two days after I completed stage 1, I got an email about stage 2 which, to my surprise, is a technical assessment involving M-A-T-H. Oh-em-gee. I die… “Ano na naman ‘tong pinasok mo, Airees!!!”, I told myself. I felt my hairs stand and my face red! ??‍♀️

I answered the GRE reviewer for 7 days, around 8 hours per day. Self-defeating thoughts became louder and louder as I solve each Math problem. It’s like a double-edged sword in my brain – solving while fighting “the enemy”. I resolved to fight the good fight of faith. If I don’t make it to the cut, at least I know that I that I fought ‘til the end.

July 12 – I took the test – 1.5 hours, 40 word problems. Arithmetic, Algebra, Word Problems on Simple Interest, Statistics and Probability. I took it without any expectation nor telling myself that I’ll fail. I just surrendered it to God and let go for I believe that if this is for me, it will be.

For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.

– Romans 11:29

July 18 – I got this:

It didn’t sink in at first. I had to read the email a few more times because God knows how much I spent trying to squeeze everything I reviewed in my brain and glued to my desk solving Math for 8 hours. Then I realized –

The only limits in our life are those that we impose on ourselves.

– Bob Proctor

July 25 – I learned during the workshop that 86 of us got in out of 1300+ who applied. Only 20 will be selected as scholars. Yay! For Stage 3, we were given Grab’s Data Set for 2013. We have to a give business recommendation based on analytics that we will extract from the given data set and present it thru data storytelling and visualization. We were told that we can use Excel, Tableau or anything as long as we can show how we came up with the recommendation. We have 6 days to submit.

Ano daw?! ???‍♀️ As an artist, these terms are all German to me!

Thanks to Google, Tableau is actually a data visualization tool! To be honest, I thought it’s just a sosyal term for table graph in Excel! ? don’t have any data scientist/Stat friends so Skillshare and YouTube helped me navigate Tableau. But the bulk of the project is really about how you think, and how you convey it through data storytelling using the data set and tools given. Only my husband, children and a handful of friends knew of my scholarship application.

It came to a point where even in my dreams, I saw myself using Tableau and seeing Excel spreadsheets! Even in real life, in between working on my submission, I made a data viz of my thoughts:

Disclaimer: For visualization only; not Mathematically accurate

10pm of July 31st, I finished Stage 3:

August 6, after failing to submit my Passion to Paid scholarship entry (for another scholarship by Lauren Hom for creatives) on time due to different time zones, I got an email from FTW:

Less than 40 of us made it to the final stage. I booked my interview for the next day since I just want to get over and done with it.

By this time, I already saw the heART in Math, specifically in Statistics and Data Science, and its relevance in our daily lives, be it on how we use social media for good (and bad), how stakeholders make business decisions that affect the economy, the world and humanity.

I used to hate Math, specifically Calculus, because I really had a tough time in college because of that and not actually in programming. I didn’t see its relevance in my everyday life. It made me feel that I’m so stupid in Math and somehow that’s the reason why I steered clear of a career in IT and instead pursued my creative passions.

This Data Science Scholarship application made me realize I’m not allergic to Math after all! ? In fact, love ko na sya! Haha! Seriously, I saw the power of Data Science/Analytics and the need to use it for greater good.

The interview went well – I had so much more to say I even prepared a “Steve-Jobs-Commencement-Speech-sort-of” essay because I finally connected the dots of my entire journey from taking up CompSci to creative journey and now, Data Analytics! But we only had 20 minutes so I’ll save it for another blog post! ?

August 14, I received an email:

I was speechless for a good few minutes when I saw this. What are the odds that this 46-year old artist and an allergic to Math would be one of the 22 Data Science Scholars of Batch 4 of For The Women Foundation and probably the oldest.

All throughout this journey, I held on to one of God’s promises:


In everything that I’ve been to, I’ve always incorporated my ART – ART+Faith, ART+Sustainability. Maybe mycreativity will find a way into this field, who knows. We’ll see. It’s up to The One Who holds my future.

To God be the glory!??

P.S. If you’ve reached this far, tap on the image above and save it for your mobile wallpaper. It’s my thanksgiving gift. ?

To be continued…. Yes, hindi pa tapos ang kwento ko! ?