A Filipina's journey: From selling fish to owning a college in England

Filipina Nova Fossgard made a big name for herself when news hit that she was a humble Filipina that now owns a college in London.
Photo credit to the owner

Fossgard was born in Tukuran Zamboanga Del Sur. Her father was a fisherman and her mom was a housewife.

She mentioned how when she was younger, she used to sell fish in her town’s market. She also learned how to hustle.

You are in the market and you have to shout – fish, fish, bente, bente… Isda, isda, bariles, bariles. Bente, bente,” Fossgard said.

Nangawat ko isda sa auntie ko (I stole fish from my aunt). That’s a secret, but I will tell you. Because I was starving. I had this little girl, I gave it to her and passed it on to the market. This little girl gave me the money and I gave her commission,” she explained.

Years later, she left for England and is now the director of Purley Language College, with her husband as the principal.

It was in 2006 that Fossgard’s husband, Jan, was offered the chance to own the school because the previous owners wanted to retire already.

I’m sure that coming from a family that had a small business themselves it must have helped her a lot. She had to work at a very young age. She must have felt what it’s like not to have a lot. That [is] probably what has driven her to better things through the years,” said her husband.

It was then that the couple sad yes and began their new journey with their new school.

It was just by coincidence really. My husband applied to teach English here. Then my husband was approached if he wanted to buy out the school,” said Fossgard. 

“In the beginning, we borrowed so much money. We remortgaged and it tested us, our relationship, financially and emotionally. It wasn’t easy,” she added.

Fossgard got her degree in accounting from Southern Mindanao College in 1991, and then worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong in order to help her family with her brothers’ college expenses.

It was there that she was offered a job in England as well, and that is where she met her husband.

Fossgard wants others to learn from her experience. She said that having an education is very important.

How can you be successful without education? I kept telling my brothers, education is the best capital for you. Then once you have education, look for what you are passionate about. Then focus on that one thing,” she said.

Don’t be afraid. Follow your instinct. Gawin mo lahat ang gusto mo sa buhay. If you keep holding back with your fear, you think may mangyayari? You have to overcome (your fears). Takbo ka, don’t crawl. Always run," she added.

Source: ABS-CBN News

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