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My name is Gloren Guelos, and I am a proud Filipino Canadian citizen. I moved to Canada when I was twelve years old and immigrating here into a new country was a culture shock as assimilating was a rough start. Starting high school in 2008 gave me a lot of anxiety. Trying to fluently speak English and making friends was not easy as I ended up spending most lunch breaks by myself.
I disliked having breaks because it was hard for me to see everyone socializing within their groups of friends. To get out of my comfort zone, I started asking one classmate at a time to hang out during lunch breaks which took a lot of courage from me as English wasn’t my first language.
As I became more comfortable with my English, I had more confidence talking to my peers in which I found some of my best girlfriends later on.
Throughout my high school life, I knew I had to find a way out of battling my insecurities, dealing with social anxiety as well as trying to accept my parents’ separation. As an only child, it was a huge weight on my shoulders. However, even though I was struggling, music saved me.
In my grade nine year, I stumbled upon what is now my passion for dance. I auditioned to join the junior dance team even though my mom did not approve because of some personal health issues.
I suffered from asthma since I was little and although dancing wasn’t a significant detriment to my breathing, my mother who was always protective would argue and discourage me from continuing. I learned to balance school with my dance schedule, but every year since grade 9, all I wanted to do was join the team again and again.
As far as my academics, I have always struggled a great deal with math. I lost confidence in myself when I got my first C- because I knew it was mandatory to pursue nursing. I made the decision retake Math 11 and not only to work harder but seek as much help as possible.
After graduating, since I was determined to become a nurse, I pushed myself throughout post-secondary and before I turned twenty, I received what I believe is my first big achievement, a licensed practical nursing diploma from Stenberg College.
As a big believer in “things happens for a reason” I believe that I wouldn’t have had the privilege to model for my school’s advertisements if I didn’t end up taking the LPN Program and meeting Jenny Rae, my school’s Student Placement Administrator. Jenny saw potential in me that I never necessarily saw in myself.
After this opportunity had fallen into my lap, I became more interested in modeling, and as a result of her talented skills, I am grateful I have been able to have my photos published in several magazines. However, my life took a storm when I fought depression after finding out that my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Liver Cancer a month before he passed away.
I struggled to focus on my studies as I only had three weeks until I had to take my final exam. I knew at this point all I could do was persevere.
I went to the Philippines to take care of him for twenty-five days and thankfully, this resulted in delaying my last preceptorship and finishing school later.
When he passed away, I promised myself to pursue my dreams no matter what. I went back to Canada with his strength to aim high. I joined my first pageant, Miss British Columbia 2016 to simply support the Canadian Cancer Foundation and to establish my platform: breaking the stigma that revolves around mental illness and to encourage children to balance out their education and their passions.
On July 3rd, God gave the best birthday gift of the year; I was crowned as Miss BC 2016.
This year, I juggled being a full-time nurse on night shifts, a BC Lions Cheerleader, attending events as Miss BC and everything else in between.
I know I would not be where I am without my mom’s support, and it brings me peace knowing I have been able to not only be, but accept myself as well.
To conclude, I’d say that surrounding myself with the right supporters is one of the most important things I had to equip my life with. I wouldn’t be at the happiest and healthiest self I am now without my family, my partner, my best friends and most of all, God.
I aspire as a young woman to influence whoever may need some guidance; and to love, to be compassionate, and to live as a fighter. I want my evolving story to speak to not only young girls, but also anyone struggling to either pursue, balance or fight through whatever it may be.
My message will always be to seek the optimistic side and do the things you love because as we all know, our time on this Earth is precious, and life is meant to be lived.
Photos Credit: Evan Chen Photography