MANILA, Philippines -- She may already be a Southeast Asian Games medalist and a ONE Championship combatant, but Team Lakay's Jenelyn Olsim never forgot her responsibilities as a student.
The atomweight contender was the personification of a "student-athlete" earlier this year, as she embodied her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Baguio while also training for the 31st SEA Games and ONE 158.
In a display of perseverance, Olsim achieved her goals both in her academic and mixed martial arts careers.
Aside from obtaining her degree, Olsim also won a bronze in the Vovinam competition in the Hanoi SEA Games, then secured 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," said Osim.
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 she is going through in her studies and career.
"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," she said.
"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," she added.
It helps that Olsim has the support not just of her coach and her mentors, but also of a fellow fighter in Eduard Folayang. The former ONE lightweight world champion, along with Sangiao, became Olsim's role models because of what they achieved both at MMA and in school.
"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," Olsim said.