Catching Up and Going Beyond

Realizing that she wanted to change her mindset and improve her math skills, Mary Divine Alegado suggested to her parents that she enroll in Kumon. She vividly describes herself as a second-year high school student then who did not memorize the multiplication table, could spend a whole day alone in her room, and yet wanted to do more than just catch up with her classmates. She wanted to excel and even try to go beyond what she is already capable of doing.

“I noticed that I was too focused on just trying to catch up with the class. I wanted a change in myself.”

It was good timing that Divine saw banners outside the Kumon Center during summer. She thought of enrolling herself for the summer, but she found out that Kumon was a long-term commitment. “I decided to enroll because Kumon drilled in me the idea of becoming better and competing with myself to realize what more I can do. I found this very interesting – a fresh idea.”

Now, Divine has reaped the rewards of her decisions. She completed both the Math and Reading Programs after three years in Kumon. She took up her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and is a step further toward reaching her childhood dream which she always viewed as a fantasy – her dream of becoming a doctor.

The Challenge

Divine shares the major challenges in her Kumon study. First, the workload she had to do in Kumon and in school, which she overcame by plotting a schedule of her to-do tasks and strictly sticking to it. Second, is the occasional feeling of laziness. What made her overcome this was reading the motivational messages that the assistants and her Instructor put up in the Center, and remembering the feeling of shame she would get when she pass uncompleted worksheets. Third and last, the legion of corrections and unfamiliar problems.

“Doing new worksheets meant treading on unfamiliar concepts which can get pretty scary. I overcame this by developing a sense of positivity. Sometimes, all I needed to do is look at things in a new and positive perspective. It was like hitting my brain’s refresh button and looking at the problem in a different way.”

Life as a Kumon student wouldn’t be complete without the occasional feeling of getting tired and stressed out with all the worksheets. This is why Divine thought about quitting so many whenever she sits in bed and stares at worksheets laying on her table. However, she reminded herself not to stop and that she needed to do better. “The smiles and words of encouragement from my Kumon Instructor and the assistants kept me going and inspired me to eventually complete the program.”

Looking Back and Learning

Kumon shaped Divine to become stronger mentally and emotionally. She has learned to discover new things on her own and investigate her mistakes over and over again. “Doing this every day changed me. It was hard and frustrating at times; but then again, that is the effort I have to endure to be crafted into a more patient and persistent person.” 

Even when Divine entered college, failures and setbacks did not dishearten her from her dream of becoming a doctor. It only reminded her that, just like her corrections in the worksheets, the mistakes she made and will make must not remain as mistakes but should be learning grounds for her.

“I learned the value of improving from her mistakes. Because of rigorous corrections in Kumon, I learned not to be disheartened by a mistake; rather I must be grateful for another opportunity to improve. I also learned to be courageous when introduced to something new and unfamiliar – to go outside of my comfort zone.”

“Kumon turned me into someone who dreams big – just like what I did when I aimed to advance and complete the Math and Reading Programs.“

Divine shares a piece of advice to other Kumon students who are experiencing the same situation, “Carry on, and always remember that the struggle may be real, but the reward is real as well. Can they remember that happy feeling of completing a level? Completing the program is extremely better – 1000 times better to be exact. The struggle is temporary but the reward is permanent. I completed the Math and Reading Programs more than four years ago, but I still reap the benefits until now.”


Kumon is the world's leading after-school enrichment program. We offer two subjects: Math and Reading in more than 300 Kumon Centers nationwide.

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