From Guam to top of the class
When Dannah Mangubat's parents moved their family from Guam in 2007, they did it with their children's futures in mind. Now, as a recent graduate and valedictorian of her class at Sandy High School, Mangubat aims high in hopes of one day returning the favor her parents gave her.
Mangubat was in first grade when she, her sister and mother came to the United States, leaving her father behind to continue his work as an X-ray technician.
"When I first moved, I thought the whole purpose was to get me through school and enjoy it," Mangubat said. "As time went on, I found my own purpose for being here. It's for my parents too, and not just me. I eventually want to be the one to take care of them. I want them to be able to rest. They work really hard."
Mangubat admitted it's been difficult growing up apart from her father.
He and her mother are still together, though the decision was made for him to remain in Guam. He visits the states once a month to see his daughters and wife.
"It's quite hard," Mangubat explained. "But it's become my normal. I can see the toll it's taken on my parents. And when I think about it, it's overwhelming knowing I only see my dad once a month. It's sad to me that it's become my normal too. But, I'm still blessed because I do get to see him."
It was also difficult for her "not being able to relate to people up here."
"When I do find those people I can relate to," she explained, "I hold them close."
This fall, Mangubat will enroll at the University of Oregon in Eugene to pursue a degree in business administration. "I think, like with math, business is fluent as a language and can apply to many jobs," Mangubat said of her chosen field. "There's business in everything. You get to see a variety of people and encounter challenges, and I actually enjoy working through challenges. It helps keep you in an innovative mindset, and I think that's very progressive. I like that."
Besides attempting to soak up as much business knowledge as possible while at Sandy High, Mangubat also was a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, Green Club, the Band Council — and she played flute in wind ensemble.
Long-term, Mangubat aspires to go into a career in international business and marketing — a slight change from her initial high school dream of working in fashion.
"I started taking more business classes junior year," Mangubat said. "I was into fashion, then I realized there's business in that and slowly moved away from fashion to just business."
She said her father had predicted Mangubat's path when she was younger, noticing she wasn't interested in a life in the medical field like he and her sister. He always told her she'd go into business because she "vocalizes a lot of her thoughts and opinions" and is her "own boss."
In college, besides taking classes to further her career, Mangubat is "looking forward to meeting a diverse group of people."
"I've known everyone here since the first grade," she noted. It's an experience Mangubat appreciates, but is excited to leave.
"I'm very fortunate to be here. Everybody is so welcoming even though I'm slightly different. I've grown up here and grown to appreciate (my classmates). This last year, everyone kind of realized we're in the same boat and we're all going away soon, and we gained this respect for each other we definitely didn't have freshman year," she said. "I've gotten to know people this year I always really wanted to get to know."
Mangubat added that coming to Sandy has expanded not only her opportunities, but her knowledge. "My view of the world has grown," she said. "In Guam, everyone is the same. Here, I am a minority. I also think I wouldn't be as humble and as appreciative of my parents. I see just how much work they put in for me and my sister. That's something I can never forget or repay them for. I think this understanding of my parents never would've happened if I hadn't moved."
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