First the Degree, Then the Boyfriend

My name is Yoris Esther Piñate Castillo, I am 63 years old and I am the mother of two wonderful people.

My greatest influence and inspiration since I was a child was my father, who constantly repeated to me, “You have to study, prepare and stand out. First you get a university degree and then the boyfriend.” These words got me and became a kind of mantra: First the degree, then the boyfriend. So I dedicated myself to study and enjoy every moment of my childhood stage where, after reviewing the class and doing homework, I could play in the street with the neighboring children.

In my adolescent stage I continued my high school studies, while I loved to listen to music and dance. My father bought me all the records I liked, and even built me ​​a room so I could spend time with my friends to listen to music and dance. This had a double purpose, the first to please me with music and dancing; the second, since he didn’t let me out much, kept me at home when I didn’t have class and so my friends could visit me instead of going to their homes. It was very ingenious of him.

Entering the University College where I obtained my first degree was like entering a new world. I started the courses in the morning, where we were all young people trying to be adults. When I went to night classes the world expanded, since I met men and women who worked during the day and studied at night, some to pay for their studies and others to support their families. For my part, I spent the day reading or listening to music, since my father still did not allow me to work “until I had a university degree.”

I am a Higher University Technician in Hydrocarbons Administration which allowed me to enter very young in the petroleum industry of Venezuela (my native country). I also have a degree in Administration of Material and Financial Resources, which helped me to pursue a career within the petroleum industry with increasingly elevated positions in a company where women were traditionally receptionists or secretaries. By not being more academically prepared, the other women could not aspire to better positions than the ones they were in as the higher positions were occupied only by men.

I consider myself an empowered woman thanks to my father’s phrase, which I obeyed. In my career I obtained recognition, excellent evaluations, salary increases and constant training in the pursuit of excellence. In my personal life, I liked a boy, I got pregnant and it was my absolute decision to have my son, because I already had a profession and a job that would allow me to keep it without depending on someone else. Soon after I got married my job made me relocate to a new city.  I managed to buy my first apartment, even though I must say that my husband was not the best worker in the world. This really didn’t matter to me much as I earned enough and was focused on excelling at work and in the best education for my son.

When my father passed away, I could only think about how much I had progressed professionally and personally, thanks to him. Today if I met my teenage self, I would say: “Listen and obey, I come from the future and your father’s phrase will help you achieve your goals and live well.”

Women have to learn to say no to what does not offer us future well-being. I love men, I admire them and many have earned my respect, but to think of them as the goal or as someone to sustain us financially, is absolutely wrong. We must love, prepare, educate ourselves and focus on being independent, not only with university degrees because it is not an option for everyone, but if we learn a trade that allows us to be free to make any decision in our way of life, our mantra must be “ I want to be…”

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