Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol recently graduated from the state-run University of  Southern Mindanao (USM) with a doctoral degree in rural development. 

“This is the big event of my life,” Piñol said in an interview as he headed to the USM campus here for the graduation rites.

The agriculture chief joined 14 others who were conferred the doctoral degree in four fields — Rural Development, Agricultural Sciences, Extension Services, and Education.

He was the lone candidate for PhD in Rural Development, a degree the agriculture head started working on 10 years ago.

Piñol’s dissertation was on Easy Access Credit and Its Impact on Agricultural Productivity and Rural Poverty.

His age had not stopped him from pursuing his dream of earning a doctorate.

The 65-year-old Piñol, a former editor of the Philippine News Agency (PNA), is one of the busiest Cabinet members of President Rodrigo Duterte. As such, he had to skip several semesters while studying in USM and serving as agriculture secretary.

“All my life, I have always looked at every new day as a learning day because I believe that learning is an everlasting process of discovery,” he said when asked why he worked for additional academic accomplishments even at his age.

 “I have always looked at every new day as a learning day.”

“The thought of being able to discover new things tomorrow is what keeps me going even at my age,” Piñol said.

“The thought of being able to discover new things tomorrow is what keeps me going.”

He graduated valedictorian both in elementary and high school but dropped out of college to pursue a journalism job that later became his second passion, next to farming.

Piñol became mayor of M’lang, North Cotabato and eventually, governor of the province, with only a few people knowing he was a college dropout.

While serving as governor, he decided to finish his college degree under the Expanded Tertiary Equivalency Accreditation Program (ETEAP).

“The ETEAP was a program designed for dropouts like me who wanted to finish their college degree. It converted our work experiences into academic credits and asked us to submit requirements to complete the degree,” Piñol recalled.

In 2006, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Development Communications. Inspired by that achievement, Piñol decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Rural Economic Development, which he completed two years later. 

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