FORMER University of the Philippines standout Kathy Bersola may have not won a title in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, but she's a champion outside the volleyball court.
Bersola has two Final Four appearances and a best middle blocker award to show in five seasons with the Lady Maroons, but her biggest feat came at the end of the academic year 2016-17 as she's set to graduate as summa cum laude in her Sports Science undergraduate course.
Making the achievement even more impressive was the fact that she had to split her time between studies and training with a Lady Maroons side looking to end a 35-year title drought in the UAAP.
“Sipag lang at saka discipline,” she said. “And lagi akong nakikinig sa class, never akong umabsent.”
Bersola teamed up with fellow veterans Nicole Tiamzon and Pia Gaiser, sophomores Isa Molde, Diana Carlos and Justine Dorog to carry UP's campaign while giving as much focus to her studies, sacirificing quality time with friends and family along the way.
“Madami rin na mga sacrifices like time with family, time with friends, time with my org and opportunity to join other orgs wala talaga,” shared Bersola.
“Meron naman (times I though of giving up), it lasts for like five seconds then sabi ko sa sarili ko, hindi pwede. I was raised not to be a quitter,” she added.
Bersola isn't about to stop, determined to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a doctor which took roots when she was just 10 years old, after a fateful event that could've been traumatic for most kids her age.
Instead, it planted the seeds of Bersola's dream.
“May one incident noong bata pa ako, ‘yung Lolo ko nasa bahay namin kasi nagda-dialysis siya,” recalled Bersola. “Then nanonood kami ng TV, nagpapahinga siya, biglang ‘yung sinasaksakan dito (sa arm niya) ng tube bumuka and sobrang naglabasan ang dugo.”
“During that time hindi ako natakot, naisip ko lang I wish I could help him, ‘yun lang ang naisip ko, I don’t want to feel helpless sa ganoong situation,” she continued.
Time spent with her parents, who are both engineers, in Rotary Club outreach programs only bolstered her desire to be a physician some day.
“Sumasama ako sa mga outreach and medical missions ng parents ko sa Rotary tapos doon ko nakikita ang need talaga for good doctors,” she said.
“Na-expose din ako sa world of science and I found it really interesting, lalo na ‘yung human body noong grade school ako,” she added.
Bersola knows that med school will demand more of her time but she hopes that her love for volleyball won't be sidelined.
While she has three more months before the start of med school, she’s devoting her time with Perlas in their campaign in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.
Now that she’s in medicine proper at UP Manila, Bersola, who bounced back from an ACL injury to be a key player for the Lady Maroons, plans to take up orthopedic surgery to help her fellow athletes.
“I’m leaning towards orthopedic and sports medicine so I could help other athletes as well,” she said. “Naisip ko rin mag-outreach kaya napili ko mag-medicine proper sa UPM kasi that’s where they build doctors for the masses, ‘yun ang focus nila.”