MANILA, Sept 6 (Mabuhay) — Onscreen, she is known as the borderline psychotic villainess who masterminds the protagonist’s demise. But in real life, actress Princess Punzalan finds joy in helping people get better.

Popular for her “kontrabida” portrayals in numerous drama series, Punzalan has now happily “shifted” to a life with “meaning,” as she pursues her goal of becoming a registered nurse in the United States.

Now on her third year of nursing studies at the Santa Monica College in California, the former Kapamilya actress has been staying in the US since 2005, when she left the glitz of show business for a quiet life with her husband Jason Field.

“I’m really, really so grateful na nagkaroon ako ng opportunity na magkaroon ng shift sa buhay ko,” Punzalan told YES! magazine in its September 2012 issue. “I’m really enjoying myself, ang dami kong natututunan.”

Punzalan, who is set to graduate next year, said she intends to take the licensure examination to become a registered nurse.

“Ang isang quirk ko siguro bilang isang tao — I like fixing things. I like fixing broken things,” Punzalan said of her want to shift careers.

“Parang feeling ko kung tutulungan ko ‘yong tao to get well, to get better, I would feel good. Nagkaroon ng ibig sabihin ang existence ko sa buhay ng taong ‘to,” added Punzalan, who also shared that she had been doing “rotations” in a number of hospitals since her first semester.

A far cry from her popular role as Selina Matias in the 1997 series “Mula sa Puso,” where she earned widespread renown as an actress, Punzalan said she appreciates life more with her new roles as a wife and as a nurse.

“Hindi bale wala ang ginagawa ko. Whether ibe-bedpan ko ang pasyente or papaliguan o bibigyan ng gamot or i-a-assess kung mataas ba ang blood pressure niya or anuman, may ibig sabihin,” she said.

“It makes me appreciate life more, ganon. Parang mas nagkaroon ng depth ang understanding ko about people,” she added. (MNS)