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Chinoys On Top: Tips On How To Be The Next Summa Cum Laude

College is not a walk in the park, and the road to honors is definitely a challenging hike. In order to reach the summit, or the highest academic honor, one must put a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and determination. Take it from these 2 Chinoys who graduated Summa Cum Laude in their respective institutions. They proved how hard work will bring you on top and how grit will mold you into the best version of yourself. So we asked them, other than these values, what else can we do to be on top? 

To share some tips on how to be the next summa cum laude, here are Jamie Lim and Robyn Dy.

Jamie Lim

Jamie Lim made headlines last year when she won a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games, while also graduating Summa Cum Laude from University of the Philippines Diliman. On top of that, she was also awarded as the College of Science valedictorian, and then received the Joker Arroyo Award for Outstanding BS Graduate in Mathematics. Stepping out from his dad’s shadow, this Chinoy truly showed how one can excel in both academics and extracurricular activities.

However, this feat was not that easy to achieve. She also had to sacrifice some things in order to be where she is today. One of the biggest sacrifices that she made was to halt her Karate career. She narrated “I was a student athlete my entire grade school and high school. I started karate when i was 6 years old. I stopped before college to focus on academics to get that summa. “

To know more on how Jamie achieved these exceptional awards, here are some tips she shared for the students who are also aiming to get that summa.

1) Be consistent

“My biggest advice would be to be as consistent as possible. Have a goal and really stick to it everyday, divide the load, plan things out, and as much as possible try not to procrastinate! Planning out your schedule and spreading out the study materials really help maintain the stress levels. [But] don’t forget to have fun too!! Throughout my entire college, that’s what I tried to do. Math classes are often very abstract and it’s so easy to get lost in classes, because once you miss a step, you may miss everything else that follows. So I guess that’s what pushed me to study everyday and keep up with the pace of the classes. I guess this helped me out a lot in the stress part because I rarely had any “all nighters” because of the planning and consistency. And my brain stops working at 1am so it’s good that I don’t need to stay up that late.”


2) Have a goal, Stick to it, and Don’t give up

“There probably will be a lot of challenges and low points, but you can always pick yourself up and get ready for the next battle. The whole course will take approximately 4 years worth of effort, so don’t let one single exam bring your spirits down. Have the “bawi lang” mindset too!” 

3) Study the day’s coverage

“I like to study what was covered during the day so i can keep up with the lessons and be ready for the next class.” 

4) Ask questions

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You can do it during class or even after.”

5) Group Study

“Help each other out in preparing for exams! For me, it’s more fun and helpful to study in groups for specific subjects!”

Robyn Louise Dy

Robyn Louise Dy graduated summa cum laude from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Political Science and a Minor in Korean Studies. Aside from juggling her studies, she also had a number of extracurricular activities. She narrated, “my time as a student really made me realize that I love learning, in all its forms, so I was always on the lookout for a new skill/hobby to pick up or opportunities to refine the skills I already have. I took on a couple of research-related internships as an undergraduate and these went a long way towards improving my work ethic and tweaking my abilities to meet real workplace needs. To further expand the skill set I’ve honed as a political science major, I also dedicated time to improve my Korean proficiency and even do basic coding courses.”

With all these interests however, she still managed to be on top. So how did she do it and how can you do it as well?

1) Persevere

Photo courtesy of Aldo Santiago of The GUIDON

“Perseverance is one thing that really helped me through my undergraduate years. When I decided to do my degree in Ateneo, I was already aware of the university’s intense academic rigor and I wasn’t expecting an easy time at all. I just promised myself that I’d give my best effort and channel all the energy I possibly could into my classes and see where that would take me. Each semester was another chance for me to take on new challenges and goals and it wasn’t until senior year that I realized how close I was to the cutoff for summa cum laude. It only dawned upon me then how far I’ve really come from a nervous freshie to a motivated and more confident senior. And I looked back at all the requirements and classes that felt impossibly difficult and bleak then and thanked myself for choosing to persevere and carry on.”

2) Stay true to your goals and motivations

“Staying true to my goals and motivations also played a key role in my academic achievements. I came into college with the intention to engage with an even higher level of learning and meet even more rigorous academic demands to further hone my skills and abilities. In every class, the goal was to always learn and come out of it with more knowledge than when I started. I poured time and effort into each paper and presentation and made it a point to engage in class because I saw these as the best ways to manifest what I’ve learned. I even stuck it out with what others would brand as “difficult professors” because I knew that I’d pick up a lot from their expertise. At some point, classes became less about the numerical grades and more about how they can broaden and deepen my perspective as a Filipino and a world citizen— I’m just lucky that it also happened to meet the standards and expectations of my professors! Graduating summa cum laude can truly mean a lot of things for different people and my achievement, at its core, reassured me that I’ve maximized an amazing learning opportunity at Ateneo and primed myself for life down from the hill.”

We hope these tips would help you achieve your goals and motivate you to always run after them. We can’t wait to see you be the next summa cum laude!


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