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Julia Chu: On Topping the Bar Exam and Going Beyond Borders

#IamBeyondStories | The infamous bar exam can be considered as one of the most daunting experiences any aspiring legal practitioner has to go through, but Julia Alexandra Chu proves that Chinoys can not only finish the exam, they can also top it as well. 

Last April 12, the Supreme Court released the highly-anticipated result of this year’s bar exam and out of 11,402 bar takers, Chu defied the odds and topped the bar exam by ranking first in the list. 

“I was in the list of excellent passers which is really great, although I still can’t believe it myself,” shared Chu.

Not all academics

People would often assume that a bar topnotcher is someone who focuses solely on achieving academically and foregoing other aspects of life. This is not the case for Chu who shares that she has a well-balanced social life that she juggles with preparing for the bar exams.

A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Chu shares that one of the things she loves to do is traveling and going on heart-racing adventures. She shared having gone paragliding in Columbia, engaging in a four day trek in Machu Picchu, having gone to the Amazon by herself,  as well as sandboarding in Peru.

These adventures may sound intimidating to non-adrenaline junkies like Chu but according to her, “when you do a scary thing, you just hold your breath for two seconds and go for it,”. This does not apply only to her exhilarating travel experiences but also on a deeper level that is connected to her breaking the norms of her traditional Filipino-Chinese upbringing.

Transcending the norms

Chu grew up in a typical Chinese family with her dad being pure Chinese and her mother being half-Chinese. She recounts experiencing the stereotypical notion among Chinoy families where the parents plan out the life of their children for them but instead of going with the flow, Chu bravely took the leap of faith to follow what she truly wants in life. 

“As Chinese-Filipinos, we have a life script wherein we are expected to be a businessman or a doctor or a lawyer, to get good grades, start a family, get a good job and money. But very early on I was a bit of a rebel because I always wanted to challenge that.” said Chu.

After finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of the Philippines, Chu was supposed to go right into law school, having been accepted at the Ateneo Law School and UP Law. With a brave heart, Chu chose to follow her own path and accepted a once-in-a-lifetime job offer in Peru that was in line with her advocacy of youth empowerment and public service.

Aside from her career, Chu also considered a lot in terms of marriage. “My parents wanted me to marry Chinese because I’m the youngest daughter, so I was the last hope and also because I’m the youngest. There is also a precedent because none of my siblings married someone who was pure chinese,” said Chu. Despite this, she still transcended the norms and ended up marrying the love of her life, a Polish friend she met during a scholarship study in Spain.

Choosing to follow one’s own destiny and not allowing traditions to decide for her proved to be a worthwhile and genuinely fulfilling decision for Chu, who is now happily married and a successful lawyer at SyCip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan.

“Even though it was against my life script, it ended up fitting in my life and ended up opening a lot of opportunities for me,” shared Chu, whose story is a testament that today’s modern Chinoys are truly going above and beyond borders, soaring to great heights that certainly makes the Chinoy community proud of them. 

To hear more stories like these, tune in to CNN Philippines every Sunday at 8pm as CHiNOY TV once again presents inspiring stories from season 2 of Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart. With replays on Wednesdays at 8pm on CHiNOY TV’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, and Saturdays at 6:30pm on CNN Philippines.

Do you also have an inspiring story that goes beyond the usual norm, culture and stereotype? Share your story with the community:

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