Earning a degree is always a challenge, but completing your studies while being a professional mixed martial artist and a national athlete is an endeavor of the highest difficulty.
Such was the case with Team Lakay’s Jenelyn Olsim.
The atomweight contender recently obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Baguio but it wasn’t just her books and internship that she had to deal with.
Olsim, during the final stretch of her senior year, had to prepare and compete in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games and for her return fight at ONE 158: Tawanchai vs. Larsen.
Nevertheless, the versatile fighter had more than enough perseverance to push through and achieve what she sought in both her scholastic and martial arts careers.
On top of obtaining her degree, Olsim captured a bronze medal in the Vovinam competition in the Hanoi SEA Games and also a crucial split decision win over Julie Mezabarba earlier this month.
“I think I’m living the life that I want and I’m happy about it. During those times when it got so hectic, I knew I had to fully focus, get organized, and strictly follow my schedule. When things get too distracting, I tend to reset things and I’m back in my focused state,” she said.
The 25-year-old added that she regularly talked to Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao and her mentors at Singa Law Office about what’s going through in her studies and career. This openness, subsequently, afforded her the support of her superiors.
“I experienced when things just snowballed and everything was happening all at once but I’m so proud that I didn’t stop. I pursued my studies and got my degree. It feels uplifting and empowering,” said Olsim.
“I admit that I find it difficult to balance everything and there were things that I had to sacrifice. Whenever I feel that my stress is building up, I always think of the why’s and think of what I’ve been doing in my career.”
Jenelyn Olsim finds role models in Eduard Folayang and Mark Sangiao
Team Lakay is not just the home of MMA world champions, it’s also the hub of some of the most accomplished fighters in the world of academics. This gave Olsim to find role models not just in martial arts but also in school.
Olsim said that Sangiao and former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang were her role models because of what they achieved in MMA and at school.
“They are my role models; I genuinely look up to them and they inspire me to accomplish more. I always take their advice to heart, and one of those is that I should be focused on finishing my degree,” said Olsim.
Folayang was once an English and Physical Education teacher after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of the Cordilleras while Sangiao taught at the same university’s Criminology Department while completing his Master’s Degree.
“Knowing that they’re champions and they all pursued their degrees, of course, I wouldn’t be left behind,” said Olsim.