The couple shares how strong, mission-driven relationships help us rise.
Far from ready to brush off the chalk from their hands, Jessica Shau and Edric Uy are only getting started with scaling new heights. Youth educators with a passion for climbing, the couple is unwavering in the face of every crux, steadied by each other and secured in their mission to empower Filipino youth to set their own routes in life.
New heights can be daunting, but with the right tools, strong supports, and steady resolve, those heights are surmountable. Anchored by their faith, Jessica and Edric are working to ensure that Filipino youth are equipped to rise through life confidently.
“Currently, we’re serving alongside each other in the youth ministry of the church, and we envision ourselves continuing to do that,” said Jessica. Seeing how the pandemic struck youth’s well-being, she discerned her calling to become a clinical psychologist specializing in children and adolescents. Jessica decided to navigate out of her corporate career, and she’s now gearing up to study Christian counselling full time.
Reflecting on his own educational foundations, Edric expressed a similar desire to be a stronghold for young adults through his work as a youth ministry director. “Growing up, I was blessed enough to be equipped, empowered, and edified. That helped me realize that I want to serve in a ministry where I get to reach out to the youth as they try to determine what they want to do when they grow up.”
United in their shared mission, Jessica and Edric are setting the notches for youth to reach new peaks. They began envisioning ways to grow their impact as they moved into life as a married couple.
“We were supposed to get married two weeks right after the initial lockdown,” Edric recounted. In early 2020, he and Jessica hoped that COVID-19 restrictions would ease up and that they could have the big wedding they had initially arranged. The pandemic had other plans, but so did the couple—this time involving InvestEd.
Through fellow Industrial Engineering graduate, CEO Carmina Bayombong, Jessica learned about how InvestEd makes higher education accessible to more Filipino young adults. Jessica first began her partnership with InvestEd shortly after college, and Edric followed her lead as they were about to get married. “When Jessica was telling me about InvestEd,” Edric recounted, “we saw a new opportunity, right when the pandemic happened.”
Working in the youth ministry, Jessica and Edric understand the impact of building supportive bonds with youth in their journey to adulthood. Like belaying a climbing partner, it’s important to the couple that young adults feel fully supported and assured that someone has their back, every step of the way.
Jessica and Edric partnered with InvestEd to create a similar kind of steadfast relationship. “I think that it’s a really sustainable way of helping people. You’re not just giving a one time donation,” Jessica shared.
“I think opportunities are always built around relationships,” Edric agreed. “Our partnership with InvestEd really targets to create relationships that give students opportunities to learn and to be equipped. They get to learn and practice managing their finances, so it’s a learning experience for them and a learning experience for us.”
Jessica drew a connection between their work and mission, “It’s about putting those two things together—the needs of the community and your interests—so that you’re able to help the people around you and you’re also able to meet your financial goals.”
In the same vein, she and Edric started their small business, The Chalkbag Project, offering customized chalk bags handmade by a team of seamstresses. Through InvestEd and their own project, the couple is building new relationships and creating new opportunities out of shared passions.
As climbers, Edric and Jessica know the importance of falling safely, learning to get back up again, and understanding that there are many ways to the top. These principles shape their relationship, personal and financial decisions, and approach to education.
“When people ask us how we got together, we always say it depends on who you ask,” Jessica quipped. Each of them remembering different parts of the story, Jessica and Edric had crossed paths a few times—at church camp, college, and the climbing gym—before they got together. At all these points, Jessica and Edric grew as individuals shaped by time and new experiences, transforming them into the people they are today, together.
Reflecting on her own path, Jessica shared, “When you’re in college, there’s so much pressure to think, ‘Oh, I have to take what I want to do, and that will dictate what I will do for the rest of my life’…Looking back, would I have told my younger self to go into psychology instead? I realized, no. I have a background both in industrial engineering and counselling, and I’m able to put those two things together, like making systems for counselling and guidance programs.” Apart from enabling her to advance her vocation uniquely, Jessica’s industrial engineering degree also opened doors to her previous corporate jobs, which helped her save up for her career shift and continued education.
“There’s always going to be open opportunities here, closed opportunities there,” Eric said, calling up the image of a climber about to embark on a new route. Through their partnership with InvestEd, he and Jessica are enabling more youth to navigate their own holds.
“Higher education gives you another chance to discern what you really want to do for the rest of your life,” he shared. “You can see from there, whether you enjoy something or not. There’s no shame in going back and changing course, or deciding to try out something new.” Growing with the InvestEd community, Jessica and Edric are grateful for every ground-up.
A globally-awarded social enterprise, InvestEd partners with family funds, employers, and financial institutions to finance the education of unbanked learners. Since its inception, the organization has raised over P150 million in capital from funders who seek to invest in education or build on specialized lending programs together with InvestEd. To date, InvestEd has helped thousands of low-income Filipino youth from 500+ schools increase their income and navigate success in a fast-changing world. If you would like to partner with the organization or start a fund for education, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org