Student overcomes international struggles


Danica Rochelle A. Tuason mentors Anthony Nguyen on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.

Denise Barajas

In the midst of all the anxiety brought on by finals, papers and projects, sometimes it can get hard for students to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, it is when you come across students like psychology major and graduating senior Danica Rochelle A. Tuason that you are reminded that regardless of what adversity you are facing, you can overcome it.

Originally from the suburbs in the Philippines, Danica has worked tirelessly to obtain her degree. A non-traditional student, Danica has traveled across the States alongside her army husband since she was 21 years-old. Now at 29, she eagerly awaits the day she can walk across the stage at commencement this December.

Danica began her college education back home in the Philippines as an aspiring nurse’s assistant. At the time she was in a committed long distance relationship with her then boyfriend, now husband, Jaeger D. Tuason, who had enlisted in the army and moved to a station in Virginia in 2003.

The two had met after Danica, only 14 years-old at the time, had accidently dialed a wrong number that would then lead to her future husband answering the phone. Danica retells the story, reciting the number she still has memorized after so many years and says it must of been fate that brought them together.

Young and in love, the long distance relationship grew to be too much for the two, and so Danica and Jaeger agreed that she should move to the states. During her last semester in college, Jaeger filled out the paperwork necessary for her to move, anticipating that the process would take a long time.

However, in 2007, Danica, just a few months away from graduating, received a notice that she had to move to the States immediately. So she left her family for a new life, and the young couple, happy to be reunited, shortly after then married.

Danica recalls how hard the move was for her. “It was love that brought me to the U.S., but it was really hard the first year. I remember I was always crying because I was so close to my siblings and my grandparents and especially to my dad,” said Danica. “I basically left everything I had, the most important people in my life, to be with my future husband, but I loved him so I just told myself it would be ok.”

The transition had not been easy for either of them. After being exposed to so many new customs, Danica began to suffer from culture shock. “We began to have difficulties in our marriage because I became very introverted and I became afraid of talking,” said Danica. “I was just always scared that people would judge me because of my accent or that they would not understand what I was trying to say and just assume that I was dumb.”

Despite all of this, Danica, still determined to pursue her degree in higher education, returned to school for nursing.

Unfortunately, it was not long before Jaeger would again be relocated, this time to Sacramento, meaning Danica would once more be left with no option but to leave school again, months before graduating.

Due to some issues with her eligibility, Danica was unable to apply to the nursing program at Sacramento State. Devastated by the situation but no less ambitious, Danica, determined to get her degree, applied to the psychology program where she was accepted.

For most, being ineligible for the nursing program would have been detrimental, but looking back at it, Danica see’s it all as more bittersweet. “Psychology was the second field I always wanted to pursue, and though making the switch was hard because I had all the background in nursing, I am happy I did it. I have learned so much in this field that I apply to my everyday life,” said Danica.

Now, nearly nine years after moving to the U.S., Danica is the mother of four-year-old Jacob Dylan A. Tuason, and she and Jaeger are still married. Despite all the hardships she has faced, she says should would still go through it all again.

“My son and my family and my faith is what has really kept me going through it all. It has not been easy, but thinking about graduation in a few weeks brings me much joy,” said Danica.

Her husband Jaeger commented on their relationship by saying, “since the time we first met when we were just teenagers, until today, Danica is still the same caring, loving, down to earth and most positive person. Through all the struggles that have happened in our lives, she has become stronger and so has our relationship. She is my wife, my life and my best friend.”