Leaders of Tomorrow: Bright Young Achievers From the Class of 2018
Meet some of the most hardworking young minds from the graduating class of 2018. Filled with gratitude, moved by passion, and armed with exceptional skills, these students are ready to face bigger challenges with the intent to make the world—and especially the Philippines—a better place
Wesleyan University and Columbia University
Philippe has the unique privilege of attending two prestigious universities under a dual degree program. He plans to earn his B.A. degree in Economics and Data Analysis at Wesleyan in the first three years and complete his major in Financial Engineering at Columbia University for the last two. He was the sole recipient of Wesleyan’s Freeman Asian Scholarship this year, which was an unexpected honor for Philippe.
He calls himself an aspiring tech entrepreneur. In high school, he co-developed a smart system for regulating home electricity consumption and a web application for commuting in Manila. “Blessed” is the humble word Philippe used to describe the four international awards these two projects have won.
Aced It: Philippe was named the youngest president of YouthHack Manila, the founding chapter of a global non-profit that educates students on technology, entrepreneurship, and startups. Under his leadership, the
He, along with Janel Perez and Rafael Santiago, is currently working on a nonprofit that allows less fortunate Filipino students obtain and maximize educational opportunities in the U.S.
Looking Forward To: Living in another country and in a culture that’s completely different from what he grew up in. “I think that kind of immersion is essential in my development as an individual,” he adds.
Bright Plans: After working in the States for a year or two, Philippe would like to return to the Philippines to establish his own tech startup. “I see so much potential in this field to create
The summer before her senior year at Philippine Science High School, Mikha already experienced an inkling of what she will go through at Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences through a fully-granted scholarship to a summer program on Biomedical Engineering. There, she had the opportunity to mingle with future professors, to take laboratory classes, and to experience what it meant to be a student at the prestigious learning institution.
Her love for Columbia’s holistic vision only multiplied after that month, so it was with great pride that she was named a Charles P. David Scholar under early decision admissions.
Aced It: While studying, Mikha simultaneously volunteered at Teach for the Philippines, which she called ‘fulfilling.’ She also worked at a local hospital, which was great for her since she knew she wanted to work in the field of medicine one day.
Bright Plans: Mikha's biggest goal is to return to the Philippines after completing her residency. “I aspire to one day become a human-centric physician and help innovate healthcare in the Philippines,” she says, “While I dream of many things, my biggest one is to incite lasting and meaningful impact in the lives of others.”
Yale-bound Philippine Science High School graduate Lorenzo Flores explains why he chose to take Statistics and Data Science: “I find Data Science interesting because there are so many fields you can go into with Data Science. Moreover, it has so many applications, and I guess something I really look for in a field is that you don’t get stuck in a routine.” He hopes that he can take what he’ll learn in order to propose better policies that will ultimately make the Philippines’ education system better.
Lorenzo shares that he didn’t really have a dream school in the beginning. It was only after an interview with Stephen Groff from Yale that he got hyped over the Ivy League school for a number of reasons. The first one being that Yale had the exact course he hoped for. He explains that other colleges would typically have Applied Mathematics or Mathematics instead of Data Science so he was instantly drawn to the university. “I didn’t have a dream school at all, but now Yale seems like it.”
Aced It: Lorenzo has been working on Atom, his high school’s chem club. “Our recent project is that we have a Chem caravan, so we go to different public schools, we show them Chem experiments, and after that, we talk about the concepts behind them, and what you can do if you study STEM,” he shares.
Looking Forward To: While doing research for Yale, Lorenzo came upon several organizations that caught his eye. He’s excited to try out every opportunity that comes his way.
Bright Plans: Career-wise, Lorenzo says he would most probably join a company as a Data Officer. But he also wants to work with the government to create interest
After finishing elementary at PAREF Woodrose, Agnes began, as most of the students in the Philippine High School System do, in the seventh grade.
With a keen interest in math and science, Agnes says that she always liked “building things,” and looks forward to studying mechanical engineering and aerospace at Princeton University this fall.
An active member of her school’s math team, Agnes has been competing at national level competitions since she began at Philippine Science High School and says that she excelled most in the interdisciplinary competitions (math, biology, chemistry, and physics). In high school, she held several research internships, both locally and abroad. At UP, she aided her professor in his thesis and was able to put her scientific computing skills to work.
Aced It: Agnes also was one of only 30 international students accepted for a highly competitive five-week internship organized by the prestigious Center for Excellence in Education’s Research Science Institute, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Incoming freshmen at Princeton University Mandy Qua and Agnes Robang
California Institute of Technology
A streak of wins at several math contests led Raffy to believe he was meant to do
Along with his fellow incoming freshmen Janel Perez and Philippe Bungabong, Raffy co-founded CAUSE, an initiative that aims to encourage Filipino students to pursue higher education abroad. “There’s so much stigma [that] studying abroad is
Aced It: Raffy won awards in both the World Math Team Championship and the Singapore Math Modelling Contest.
Bright Plans: “The goal is for me is to really give back. It’s really to serve the country,” Raffy explains, hoping to first get experience abroad and then bring it back to the Philippines.
Philippine Science High School alumni Mikhaela Diaz, Rafael Santiago, Agnes Robang, Lorenzo Flores, and Philippe Bungabong
Audrey Therese Buhain
As a public policy major at Brown University, Audrey intends to study narratives of social inequality and would like to focus on how society, politics, and economy reinforce these conditions. Her interest in Brown began during her freshman year of high school but it was after completing a pre-college program on the psychology of gender that she really considered the possibility of attending for
Aced It: Audrey’s time at the British School Manila, where she was a merit scholar for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, was defined by her experiences as senior editor of Winston Magazine. “Our editorial team likes to credit ourselves with ushering in a “new age of Winston,” and not without reason,” she shares. “Our tenure saw a surge in socially motivated articles, many of which were written by kids who hadn’t even turned 16. We successfully encouraged them to interact with the world around them. I ended my time at BSM satisfied with the knowledge that I helped to create a culture where writers felt that sharing their stories wasn’t just valid, but absolutely necessary.”
Bright Plans: After college, she would like to work for a non-governmental or international organization. “I’m not sure of the social cause that I want to devote myself to, but hopefully, that’s something that I’m going to Brown to discover.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in food,” says Bettina Chuaunsu. An avid baker, she’s taking her experiments to the next level by taking Food Science this fall at Cornell University. She explains that as a lover of biology, she’s always been interested in why certain recipes are what they are. “I like to play around,” Bettina explains, as she says her adventures in the culinary world has inspired her to start to understand the science behind the food that we eat.
More than a baker, however, Bettina is also an accomplished archer. Though she initially started out as a golfer, she one day spotted an archery range while on the greens and tried it out of curiosity. Since starting out three years ago, Bettina has competed both in local and international competitions. Some of her accolades including a gold medal at the 2016 Seoul Youth Archery Festa Regional Qualifying Tournament.
Aced It: The multi-awarded teen won bronze medals in the 2015 Philippine Youth Games in the Cadet Girls 50 meters division. She also received the Gold Overall Achievement Award from BSM.
Looking Forward To: A true gourmand, Bettina is excited to try all the food that Cornell and Ithaca are known for.
Bright Plans: Bettina plans to get into the food industry, researching and developing products. She also hopes to one day work in agriculture in the Philippines, looking into
Once an aspiring doctor, the future Yalie now hopes to take Biomedical Engineering
Aced It: Enrique is most proud of being elected student body president, despite being at ISM for only two years.
Bright Plans: Enrique hopes to
De La Salle Zobel valedictorian Chiara recognizes computing as a tool for change. Set to take up Computer Science at Yale this fall, she is excited to be able to experience the interdisciplinarity of her course in a humanities-oriented school.
Chiara managed to turn many of her passions into projects for social advocacies. Some of her achievements include founding and heading Developer’s Society, a student-run non-profit that aims to educate and innovate tech education among students. She is also a writer for Line Break, a youth publication she founded.
Aced It: Chiara was a full academic scholar at Zobel and has founded the Developer’s Society, Batid, Line Break, and Labandera. She also works with the Philippine Robotics team and is the art director at The Brown Orient.
Looking Forward To: Immersing herself in the diverse global community that Yale has to offer.
Bright Plans: To enter the computer science industry with the aim to diversify it. She also hopes to innovate the field so technology can be more accessible to her fellow Filipinos.
University of Pennsylvania
Karlo Favis is a basketball stalwart ready to make his mark by learning from his mistakes. An incoming freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, the De La Salle Zobel graduate will be taking up Economics. By conducting a microloan study in the summer between his junior and senior year, Karlo realized how much more he has to do to be able to help the people in his community in Parañaque. He wishes to use the lessons he will learn from UPenn as a means to understand the complex economic situation in the Philippines.
Aced It: Aside from his academic pursuits, Karlo was a basketball player for DLSZ and has represented the school for UAAP Season 80. He says this was the pinnacle of his basketball career and the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
Looking Forward To: Karlo is excited to be able to learn from the best in his field and to immerse himself in other cultures.
Bright Plans: Like many fresh graduates, Karlo has yet to figure out what he wants, but hopes to find it in when he goes to the university.
University of Pennsylvania
Alexander Go is a programmer, writer, and leader rolled into one. This fall, the Xavier School graduate will attend the University of Pennsylvania as a Computer Science and Engineering major. Initially finding out that he enjoyed creating programs and software in freshman year, Alexander has since cultivated his skills to become the 8th best programmer on the high school level.
Aced It: Since freshman year, Alexander has consistently ranked as one of the best programmers in the high school level. He has since been a finalist in competitions such as the Annual National Olympiad of Informatics, Google Hackfair, and the Harvard Social Innovation Competition. Furthermore, he is a consistent recipient of the Outstanding Representation in Mathematics and was a former competitor for the World Mathematics Team. On top of all of this, Alexander was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Stallion, the school paper of Xavier School, this past school year.
Looking Forward To: Break out of his sheltered upbringing and live on his own for the first time.
Bright Plans: After university, Alexander hopes to eventually come back and set up a startup in the Philippines.
Katherine Tracy Go
The class of 2018 valedictorian at the International School Manila (ISM), Katie was also a recipient of the Moon Koo Lee award for outstanding seniors and a member of the Cum Laude Society. This fall, she will be attending Cornell University and will major in computer science.
In the 8th grade, to escape what she refers to as the “Chinese expectations,” Katie started a YouTube lifestyle and travel channel called Katie Tracy, where she discusses current events and issues relevant to her audience. To date, she has 91,000 subscribers from around the world.
Aced It: An outstanding student and well-rounded individual, Katie was the president of the National Honors Society, president of the Visual Arts Club, and president of the Chinese Cultural Club. She is also a founding member of the National Chinese Honor Society. She has played varsity volleyball and badminton and was the captain of the school’s badminton team.
Tiffany Mae Ong
After passing a rigorous selection process and receiving one of two coveted IB scholarships at the British School Manila, Tiffany is now on her way to Columbia University in New York City with the intention to major in Data Science or Statistics. Tiffany received her early education at the Immaculate Conception Academy in Greenhills before transferring to BSM to challenge herself academically, since she knew that the IB Diploma Program is one of the most rigorous academic opportunities available.
Aced It: At BSM, she pursued
British School Manila scholars Tiffany Ong and Audrey Buhain
“I spent a huge amount of my childhood trying to figure out how to get to New York,” Elise admits. “It’s funny,” she shares, “We took a picture with this random rock at Central Park and now I have this whole album of my growing up on the same rock.” Moving forward, she will continue to grow on that rock as her childhood dreams are coming to fruition. Come August, Elise will head to Manhattan armed with an admission letter from Columbia University.
An internship at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) last summer left a lasting impression on Elise, who was already very passionate about infrastructure. She is determined to complete her studies with a double major in Urban Studies and Civil Engineering. “There’s so much to be done [in the Philippines] in terms of infrastructure,” she explains.
Aced It: A well-rounded student at Brent International School, Elise participated in sports in her early years and then later became part of the Model United Nations. Her favorite extra-curricular activity, however, was the Academic Bowl, which she describes as a fun, interschool quiz bee.
Looking Forward To: Making New York city her campus.
Bright Plans: “I’d really like to come back, work, and settle here,” she says. She would also like to work with the DPWH again, given the opportunity, and contribute to bettering the infrastructure in the country.
Maria Janel Perez
A scholar at the International School Manila (ISM) since the 8th grade and an incoming freshman at Dartmouth University, Janel is an inspiration to young Filipinos everywhere. At Dartmouth, she is the recipient of the King Scholarship, a Dartmouth specific scholarship that “seeks low-income students from developing nations who are interested in alleviating poverty in their home countries.” The mission and vision of the King Scholar Leadership Program
Janel, who was also accepted to Harvard University, says that she chose to matriculate at Dartmouth because of its vision and the opportunities it provided her. In addition to covering all of her school and living expenses, she will receive an annual research grant. She is already planning a trip to Sweden and Norway to learn more about their educational system.
Aced It: During high
Looking Forward To: “I have a lot of academic interests and am a shameless nerd,” she says. “I want to explore so many areas and I feel Dartmouth will allow me to do so.”
Bright Plans: “I really want to help bridge the gap between public school and private school, and help level the playing field because right now the gap is so large and public school students are at such a disadvantage,” she shares.
“Combining service and sports, which are passions of mine, and having the opportunity to combine both is definitely a privilege,” says Ryan Santos, reflecting on all he has done in high school. The burly rugby player has been admitted to Harvard University with the hopes of one day giving back to the place he calls home. While at Harvard, Ryan says he would like to take Government or International Relations.
A graduate of International School Manila, Ryan was heavily involved in service, academia, and sports. Part of the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS), Ryan was able to travel across Asia with his rugby team, with whom he was able to win a gold medal in sophomore year. Ryan says he takes great pride in being able to bring his school together during their win and said he was grateful to be able to use that spark to create positive change in the ISM community.
Aced It: Ryan, along with friends, father, and school administrators, started the Makati Mavericks. He teaches underprivileged kids every Tuesday and Thursday, with the firm belief that “sports [are] a mechanism for social change.”
Bright Plans: Ryan dreams of writing public policies that will create change.
For Lanz, Harvard was always just a trite dream. “You know, it’s one of those dream schools that you have but you don’t really tell anyone about because you’re scared that you won’t get in. I’d say I didn’t really consider it seriously until around last year,” he says. He admits he’s not really quite sure what to take, but he narrows it down to Economics with Government or just plain Economics.
When he dove deeper into Harvard’s values, he found that the university’s motto really resonated with him: Veritas, Latin for truth. “I think achieving that truth and honesty in everything I do and doing it to the best of my ability is one of the reasons I picked it.” He adds, “Being a fourth-generation Chinese immigrant, it’s always been a family motto to make the most of what you have. My parents really gave up a lot to put me through this kind of education, going to British School Manila, and doing things do the best of my ability—to look back on an almost indelible legacy of hard work—because it’s always one of the things I’ve been striving for.”
Aced It: His long list of accomplishments includes leading the Model United Nations team, serving as head of the student government, participating in music as a
Looking Forward To: Apart from the liberal arts education, Lanz is excited about the extra-curricular activities that Harvard is famous for. “I was the
Bright Plans: Ultimately, Lanz wants to go back to help the community but whatever he ends up doing, he says his goal is to be socially responsible.
Lanz Tan and Ryan Santos are both headed to Harvard University.
University of Pennsylvania
“I’m in between Economics, Business, Chemistry,” Kyla confesses. Which is
Habitat for Humanity is one of Kyla’s passions. “I linked the foundation with Testa, which is a human resources agency, to fund training for women in Project Four, which is a community in Quezon City. For the first phase, we had 40 women, and we were able to give them different skills training, including
Another passion is diving. “I usually go diving, but I haven’t been able to do that in a while because of
Aced It: A goal-driven individual, Kyla made it a point to set time aside for Habitat for Humanity all while tackling schoolwork. “Every month, I’d want to be doing something every month for the foundation, whether it’s working with Testa, or doing builds with people from my school, or organizing fundraisers, things like that—there’s always something to do for that month.”
Bright Plans: After college, Kyla wants to further her studies by absorbing what she can in America. She plans to transition to Asia after that, and start her own enterprise in the Philippines.
“I used to get super scared thinking about college and the future, so I always didn’t think about it,” Mandy shares. For her, Princeton wasn’t at all within her reach up until her school counselor gave her that
Aside from academics, Mandy is excited about the many dance opportunities at Princeton. Ballet is one of her passions, and in her spare time, she teaches ballet to underprivileged and indigenous children to give them a form of self-expression and therapy. She connects her love for ballet to her chosen course. “Sociology is kind of just looking at society’s urban-rural differences,” she explains. Building relationships and trust with the kids she teaches inspired her to pursue the Sociology-Psychology track.
Aced It: Through ballet, Mandy has been able to provide an outlet to the kids she helps.
Bright Plans: Mandy dreams of opening a studio that promotes well-being. “Talking with the kids, mental health is pretty important, and I feel like if it was a studio that promoted both physical and mental health at the same time, it would be more effective.”
ISM students Yanna Yang, Bettina Benitez, Katie Go, Jackie Tan Ho, Maria Janel Perez, Mandy Qua, Enrique Chuidian, Ryan Santos, and Savion Garcia
West Coast vs. East Coast
Throughout her high school career at International School Manila, Kayla was involved in service and dedicated to her sports teams, volleyball and touch rugby. This incoming freshman at Stanford University was co-captain of her volleyball team in
At Stanford, Kayla plans to major in subjects like psychology, sociology or philosophy. “I am very keen on immersing myself fully in my new community through attending football games and tailgates, joining Greek life, and a variety of other clubs and student organizations on campus,” she shares.
Aced It: In addition to her athletics and service, this talented young woman was a council member of the ISM chapter of the National Honor Society, an editor on her school newspaper, and a member of both the Quill and Scroll Society and the Cum Laude Honor Society.
Bright Plans: “In the future, I hope to apply my education in professional opportunities across NGOs, small start-up companies and established multinational corporations to help me gain practical knowledge through challenge and experience.”
Jackie Tan Ho
University of California, Berkeley
Jackie spent last summer as an intern under her aunt, a geriatric psychiatrist. For two months, she spent her days with the elderly, singing for them, and engaging in games of Scrabble. What surprised her about the experience, however, was the lack of care that went to the elderly in the Philippines. She decided she wanted to do something about it and devised a strategy to someday create a neuropsychiatric program that will mentor Filipino workers to provide better care for the elderly.
While she says that family was one factor in her decision to enter Berkeley, she also finds it the perfect fit for her future goal. “Berkeley’s very good at research and it has an Alzheimer’s center, so my focus is on that,” she adds.
Aced It: The salutatorian of ISM Batch 2018 miraculously juggled serving as president of
Looking Forward To: The youngest in her family, Jackie is looking forward to exercising her independence.
Bright Plans: Right now, she’s leaning towards her “ultimate goal” of putting up a neuropsychiatric program to better mentor Filipino workers to better care for the elderly.
International School Manila salutatorian Jackie Tan Ho and valedictorian Katherine Tracey Go
Bettina developed a very diverse range of interests during her time at ISM, so much so that she saw it best to enroll at a liberal arts school. “I didn’t want to limit myself to just either business or computer science,” she says about her decision to enter Claremont McKenna. In the near future, Bettina wants to take on a major in Economics with a minor in Computer Science, ultimately marrying two of her greatest passions. In the end, she chose economics as a pathway for her to enter the business world.
Aced It: Bettina served as logistics director of the school’s Battle of the Bands, an annual charity event and a fundraiser. She was also president of the Entrepreneur Club, where she managed to put together a whole day event that had junior business IB students compete and pitch their own startups. Bettina traveled to the Faroe Islands, where she was a junior counselor to a group of 11-year-olds part of an organization called Children’s International Summer Villages.
Looking Forward To: Pushing the boundaries further and leaving her comfort zone.
Bright Plans: Her background has taught her to be very service-oriented, so she wants to give back to her community as soon as she can by seeking work.
University of California, Berkeley
“I’m excited. I’m scared. But I think it’s time for a change,” Riana says. One of British School Manila’s homegrown talents, Riana recounts how she was once the opposite of what she is now. “I was shy. I was studying at BSM, but I felt like I was just there.” But because of the encouragement of her friends to join the school’s theater program, this all changed.
Trained by the classes she took in middle school, she was an active participant of BSM Drama, where she took up the roles of Sandy in Grease, Andromache in Trojan Women, Marcy Park in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, among others. Riana said it was
Aced It: Riana was an avid performer at BSM, taking up the mantle of well-known characters from popular musicals.
Looking Forward To: Getting out of her shell and learning from living in California.
Bright Plans: Riana hopes to be able to work in a magazine or other fields related to communication.
University of Southern California
Manu beams while talking about heading to California for
Outside of school, Manu is also very active in service work with the Missionaries of Charity, an organization that nurses orphans and people with disabilities. He cherishes his time with the people he’s met. “We visit there pretty often, like once a month, and we talk to them, we give them goodies, we play with them, and communicate with them.” His work with the group has also opened him up to other efforts such as medical missions where he goes to different areas in Manila to participate in the feeding and medical programs.
Aced It: As varsity captain of his school’s basketball team, Manu has won player of the year for two years straight as well as a number of championships.
Looking Forward To: Apart from attending school, Manu is excited about the atmosphere at USC. “In British School Manila, we’ve been exposed to many international people, but the chance to meet even more on a larger scale is incredible and I really can’t wait.”
Bright Plans: Though he’s not certain where he’s headed, Manu plans to see where his studies take him.
University of California, Berkeley
After pursuing her IB Diploma with higher level courses in chemistry, biology, and English literature at Beacon Academy, and graduating as the class valedictorian, Anatori will be a freshman this August at the University of California, Berkeley. “The journey was extremely tough, but in the end, I learned so much and found an interest in my subjects that led me to choose my major— bioengineering,” she says.
Aced It: “I balanced my school life with extracurricular activities such as the school’s Gardening Club, which includes outreach and advocating an eco-friendly mindset to the community, and the Yearbook Club, which combines my passions for graphic design and photography. Outside of school, I am a volunteer at the Ayala Museum where not only did I gain work experience but learned more about
Bright Plans: Anatori hopes to do research on sustainable biomaterials or alternative bioenergy.
On the day we met Nuria, it was the day of an important chorale showcase at The Beacon Academy, which she directed, planned, and performed in. “The big performance was a Disney medley that we arranged,” she shared, “It was 15 minutes long and had 32 songs. I’m glad it’s over and I’m very proud of it.”
The multitalented Nuria heads to Haverford College in Pennsylvania in the fall. While she’s waiting to explore the array of options the liberal arts school has to offer her, Nuria is leaning toward anthropology or psychology for now.
Aced It: As the head of her delegation at The World Scholars Cup, Nuria led her team all the way to the final round at Yale University, the farthest any group from her school has ever reached. Additionally, she has left a mark on various school organizations, ranging from football to the writing club.
Looking Forward To: Joining an acapella or music group, most likely, but she’s very optimistic about trying new things.
Bright Plans: Haverford has exceptionally produced a high number of Fulbright scholars and their students were more likely to pursue graduate studies, which might be the path Nuria will take after earning her undergraduate degree.
A mix of serendipity and her brother’s influence brought Allegra to Wesleyan. She had applied at the request of her brother, also a student there, but she had always wanted to study in California. Eventually, the opportunity to study at the Connecticut-based university arrived and she’s excited that it fell into her lap.
Last summer, Allegra completed an internship at the
Aced It: During her time as vice president of their school’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Allegra was able to triple the number of members in the group and managed to do five to six builds in two years.
Looking Forward To: Immersing herself in film and unusual dance classes.
Bright Plans: Allegra is set on returning to the Philippines and applying to Ateneo Law School.
Alexa Gabrielle Sy
After spending 14 years at the British School Manila, Alexa will be attending Boston University where she intends to pursue a dual concentration in Journalism and International Relations “My interest in politics and international relations was catalyzed by my four years of
Aced It: At BSM, Alexa was the Head of Communication for the school’s student leadership team and the managing editor of Winston, its literary magazine. She also participated in several Model United Nations (MUN) delegations, both locally and abroad, and was a part of the steering committee for the 2017 BSM TEDx Talk.
Bright Plans: Her long-term interest is to pursue a career in the realm of political communication.
"As an Eagle, I can envision the limitless diversity and intellectual exploration in BC, as students are trained to be the movers and shakers of the world,"
ACED IT At Everest,
Looking Forward To: "I’m looking forward to exploring the city of Boston and discovering more about myself as I live independently for the first time," she says. "I believe Boston College will not just hone my skills in thinking creatively; Boston College will empower my passion to the best citizen-leader I can be in serving the world."
Bright Plans: She's dreamt of "creating calamity-resistant homes which cannot be ravaged by floods, typhoons or mudslides" ever since she could remember. And for
What initially attracted Yanna to Wesleyan was its more holistic approach to admissions. “I find that I’m more of a creative person who is more heavily involved with the arts, so I saw [Wesleyan] as a good way for me to immerse myself within the arts and also grow in terms of academics,” she says.
While at International School Manila, Yanna was in charge of the photography section of the school yearbook Kawayan. There she let her creativity spill out by organizing the photos and conceptualizing how the spreads would turn out. In Wesleyan, she hopes to try and pursue her interest in photography and singing while taking up Psychology.
Aced It: Yanna headed a service club in her high school called Samahang Bukas Palad. As president, she organized Saturday school services for the Bukas Palad Foundation’s pool of students.
Looking Forward To: Growing both as a person and a student in a new environment: “I sort of like the small campus and that the location, while it’s in Connecticut, I’m close to New York and Boston.”
Bright Plans: Yanna is setting her sights on a career in media or publication.
Yanna Yang and Philippe Bungabong are headed to Wesleyan University.
A member of Boston College’s Class of 2022, Basti lists his Jesuit-educated parents as his chief role models and says “their Jesuit education has had a profound influence on my outlook and values on life, particularly in shaping commitment to the common good.” A graduate of International School Manila, he was the president of the photography club and photographer for the yearbook, Kawayan. Basti was also an active member of its varsity golf and junior varsity basketball. It was his high school experiences that happened outside of school, however, that
Aced It: Basti considers his solo photography exhibit, “Strays: A Perspective,” at the Manila House, his biggest achievement to date. Consisting of 28 photographs taken in Morocco, Tagaytay, and Payatas, the exhibit represented his thoughts on stray cats, dogs, and other creatures. “I’ve thought about homeless people, beggars, street children and the general urban poor populations in large cities. And I see startling similarities between animal and human. I have been fascinated by this concept of “strays” as this applies to both animals and humans.”
Involved in the entire event, from carefully selecting the photos that would best explain his theme, to curating and supervising the installation, Basti raised P664,000 pesos and dedicated 15% of his earnings to his child-feeding project in Payatas, the
Bright Plans: “My path after college is still unknown but if I could decide I would be an NBA general manager or a National Geographic photographer. However, I don’t think about my life 10 years into the future as I consider myself spontaneous where I enjoy the uncertainty of what my future holds.”
This fall, Nicole is off to Rice University in Houston, Texas. And she's nothing but excited: "With its rare combination of rigorous academics and a vibrant student life, Rice University perfectly espouses the healthy balance that I envision for my college years. Plus, Houston is a friendly, diverse, and warm city with barely any snow," she exclaims.
Admittedly, she's entering the School of Social Science undecided and undeclared. "For the past eighteen years, I have observed the world around me; now, I seek to unravel its complexities through a major such as Political Science, Social Policy Studies, or Psychology, and maybe a minor in Business," she states.
Aced It: Nicole graduated as salutatorian from Everest Academy. There she was involved in a variety of extracurriculars, including volunteering at White Cross Orphanage, performing in the first school musical, being a part of the student council, and an impressive stint as co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.
Looking Forward To: She shares, "I am eager to fully immerse myself, both in and out of the classroom, in a new, stimulating environment full of passionate people who share my enthusiasm for learning."
Bright Plans: "While I have not committed to any specific career path, I am keenly interested in journalism, law, and business. I know that after graduation, I want to gain international experience in my chosen field as well as
University of Virginia
Juan is leaving his high school years behind with a passion for service as his greatest takeaway. A member of the ISM’s Service Learning Council, Juan participated in various fundraisers for charities and service events. Outside of school, he was part of Promoting Rural Education in the Philippines (PREP), which he calls his favorite club. But perhaps his most memorable experience was spending three weeks in Mindoro, where he worked with the Mangyan tribe, teaching children to play basketball. “It was an eye-opening experience that really showed me how despite our cultural differences in background, we are very similar to the people there.”
Juan plans to seek higher education at the University of Virginia (UVA), which he believes will provide him with the tools necessary to achieve success. “My first priority was to attend a school that motivates and challenges me academically,” he shares. “The school has a strong economics program and I’m looking forward to undertaking the challenge.”
Aced It: A multifaceted teen, Juan possesses a great love for the performing arts. Juan has done everything, from appearing in the school musical In the Heights to forming his own hip-hop band for Battle of the Bands and rapping. “Anyone at school who knows me knows that I am someone who loves performing,” he says. “I love to make people laugh and just put on a good show.”
He was presented with a leadership award for his role in the Senior Council and was a member of the Varsity Cross Country.
Bright Plans: Juan ideally wants to be a part-owner of an NBA franchise. Realistically, however, Juan would like to seek work experience in the U.S. or the U.K. before applying to business school. He adds, “I hope I can find a way to tie my interests together and really do something I love while making a positive impact
New York University
"Last summer, I had the chance to visit New York University," Caleb recalls. "The constantly progressing students and the excitingly chaotic city all blend to create a powerful sense of being at NYU which is truly thrilling to me." There he got to experience NYU first-hand through his cousin, Mikaella Evaristo, a junior studying biology and philosophy. The experience reinforced his decision to take up NYU’s liberal arts program, especially since, he says, it will also allow him to select my major later on. In addition, his love for travel and eagerness for made the program’s Study Abroad requirement ideal for him.
Caleb has received many awards form Everest, his high school, including the Semper Altius and the Integer Homo Award. Both awards are the among the highest that Everest hands out to exceptional graduating students. "It was a great feat for me to get these awards and I’ll never forget them," he says.
Aced It: A student-athlete, Caleb was part of the soccer, basketball, and the volleyball varsity. He participated in the 2017 Senior Baseball World Series in South Carolina, USA and represented the Asia Pacific Region during that competition. "Besides the sports, I joined various organizations that aim to help the less fortunate during my high school. Institutions such as Habitat for Humanity, Bahay Maria, and White Cross Orphanage have given me a keen insight
Looking Forward To: "I am most excited about
Bright Plans: Caleb says after college, he might go into graduate but ultimately, he wants to come back to the Philippines: "My desire is to return the love and sacrifices that both my grandparents, Mamita and Papa have generously showered me all throughout my life."
New York University
Aced It: Jam was his batch’s chairperson for the STEM strand in
Looking Forward To: Living in New York and exploring all the city has to offer.
Bright Plans: Jam hopes to take medicine at Stanford and become a doctor in the United States.
Zoe De Leon
New York University
“It developed my grit,” Zoe de Leon narrates, as she looks back at the wild ride that was senior high school. “The transition was hard, but I grew into it.” It was here that she says truly grew as a person.
A former intern at Town and Country, the newly minted Old Girl will be taking the Global Liberal Studies program at New York University. Wanting to take college as a time to explore her interest, Zoe says she chose GLS for its focus on the breadth of learning and humanistic approach to liberal studies.
Aced It: Zoe represented her parish at World Youth Day and has regularly contributed to her parish bulletin.
A product of the humanities strand in her high school, Zoe was active in Assumption’s Yearbook Club, the school’s student publication, and creative committees for batch activities, such as prom. She also started her own business, Sab’s Cookies, which supplied cookies to cafes from Tagaytay to BGC.
Looking Forward To: Entering NYU and to explore her different interests through her program GLS.
Bright Plans: Zoe hopes to one day have a career in media, art, design, or writing.
New York University
“I want to do something that has maybe more of an impact,” Alfonso says. And for him, Economics makes for the perfect stepping stone. “I like the way Economics can be used as a tool to model various kinds of interaction and represent various conflicting interests and variables in modeling situations in a more practical sense that takes
When he isn’t tackling schoolwork and service work, Alfonso joins both local and international debate competitions. He’s also part of Xavier’s school paper as a writer. But he mostly spends his summers honing his archery skills—an interest that almost led him to compete at the Southeast Asian Games.
Aced It: He made the national team for archery and became a sub-committee head in Xavier that allowed him to plan his own projects and host outreach programs.
Bright Plans: Though he says he’s unsure of his major, Alfonso is sure of one thing: “I plan to go onto law after,” he shares.
“I’m actually really interested in Politics and Economics, and the location of Georgetown, in DC, really opens me a lot to opportunities,” Julia exclaims. She then lists down the things that she’s looking forward
There are deeper reasons as to why Julia is taking up Political Economy. “I chose my major not just because of my interests, but also how it can be of use and how I can help in progressing the country itself.” She continues, “I think that those two things, that I’m interested in them and that they would make me a more committed citizen of the country are two reasons why I chose that particular major.”
Aced It: Julia was
Looking Forward To: “I’m just excited for Georgetown and studying abroad because I feel like it’s going to be a learning experience that I haven’t had before.”
Bright Plans: She’s looking forward to coming back to the Philippines and applying what she’s learned for the betterment of her fellow Filipinos.
Nicholas Griffin Yu
In seventh grade, Griffin experienced his first jab at running a business when he and his cousin operated a humble food stall at a music festival. The experienced fueled his interest in entrepreneurship, which he will continue to learn more about when he begins classes at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (MSB). The program propelled itself onto Griffin’s list of university options for its “rigorous business curriculum coupled with a solid foundation in the liberal arts and emphasis on ethics and social responsibility.”
“I believe one of the best ways to contribute to the community is to establish a responsible and thriving enterprise, which will have far-reaching benefits for all stakeholders as well as create an economic multiplier effect,” Griffin says, already sounding like the changemaker that he aspires to be.
Aced It: Griffin effectively made use of his years at Xavier School, earning himself
Looking Forward To: Taking advantage of the networking opportunities, mentorships, and internships provided by Georgetown’s unique location in the U.S. capital. He’s also excited to take the Theology and Philosophy classes that the Jesuits are known for.
Bright Plans: Griffin plans to put his education to use by working with a start-up company or getting involved in a government project in Washington, D.C. He then hopes to bring home that experience to launch his own business
New York University Abu Dhabi
When choosing his course, Savion picked what he felt was interesting to him, and this turned out to be Chemistry and Economics. “I found them to be really fun and challenging, but it was exciting to me. It was very challenging and interesting to learn about different things that I never learned before and I figured, maybe I can continue this in college,” he says. He does, however, confess that he’s not 100 percent sure what path he wants to focus on ultimately and that’s why he chose two courses.
Outside of school, Savion has an interest in music and sports, specifically soccer. “I like singing, I like playing the guitar, ukulele, and also the violin.” His interest in music and media has even extended to podcasts. An interest in the medium led him to make a few podcasts that discussed news, world events, and general topics.
Aced It: Savion served on the class council as president and then vice president.
Bright Plans: Savion is excited to implement what he’s learned from NYU Abu Dhabi to whatever field he ends up in. If it’s medicinal chemistry, he hopes to come back to the Philippines and find cures to the diseases that plague his fellow Filipinos.
Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University
"Attending university in Ireland has always been a dream of mine, especially since I went to boarding school in Dublin for my freshman year of high school," Betty shares. This coming fall, she will be attending Trinity College Dublin and as part of the program, she will begin her undergraduate studies there for the first two years and then move to Columbia in New York to complete her coursework.
The Dual BA program appealed to her as she explains, "to a part of me that always felt inclined towards Humanities. Columbia, on the other hand, is located at the crossroads of people from all walks of life and in the global hub of diplomacy (which I intend to pursue in the future). The great thing about International Affairs is that it covers such a broad scope, including economics, politics, religion, and law, allowing me to take a course that I have always been passionate about—world history."
Aced It: "I was student body president both in boarding school in Ireland and in Everest, for grades 9 and 11. As president in Ireland, I initiated a fund that sponsored the education of a middle school student in Mano Amiga Philippines. I also founded my school’s first MUN and was the head director of Minds At Play (a TEDx-inspired conference on the importance of childhood development), a student ambassador of Everest, a teacher for Continuing Catholic Development, and a missionary under Mission Youth Philippines. Last summer, I completed a program on International Affairs and Security in Yale, which further drove interest in diplomacy. I was also the recipient of the Integra Mulier Award, the highest award granted in Everest, and which came with a full
Looking Forward To: "I look forward to Columbia’s Core Curriculum, which, although known to be rigorous, has nurtured Columbia students into incredibly cultured and intellectually aware young adults. I also look forward to returning to Dublin for the first time since I left boarding school," she says.
Bright Plans: Betty wants to join the DFA as a foreign service officer. There she hopes to improve the Philippines' diplomatic relations with other countries. She explains, "It will take time, as the FSO exam is notoriously difficult, but fortunately, I really enjoy studying topics related to diplomacy."
University of British Columbia
“I want to aim for the best,” says Max Jao, a British School Manila graduate who will attend the University of British Columbia in the fall. Fortunately, he got into his dream program, Bachelor of Commerce Faculty, which happens to be one the most prestigious faculties in the school. “To do chemistry with a focus on business" is his ultimate goal.
Science and business aren’t the only things on his mind as Max is quite active socially and artistically. Max is both a basketball player for BSM and a singer-songwriter to boot.
Aced It: Despite being a relatively recent transferee, Max received the Outstanding Contribution to School Life award twice.
Looking Forward To: Living independently in the dorms of UBC. He sees it as an opportunity to get organized.
Bright Plans: “See where life takes you,” is Max's mantra. Prospectively, however, he hopes to one day take his masters abroad.
University of Toronto
In the third or fourth grade, Ian was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Miraculously, he overcame
Aced It: A benevolent young man, Ian was part of the Kythe Foundation, which provides support for hospitalized children with cancer and other chronic illnesses. He had also worked in an organization called Child Haus, another non-profit group that provides temporary shelter for underprivileged children seeking treatment.
Bright Plans: Ian plans to apply to a medical school and eventually work at the same hospital that treated him in the past.
Yale University – National University of Singapore
As a debate whizz, Steven has many interests. “We’ve had to engage in so many issues,” he adds, and this is the main reason that he thinks the Yale – NUS liberal arts system suits him so well. “The program itself is extremely multidisciplinary so it takes a lot of different perspectives, which is what I’ve grown used to in
Aced It: Not only was Steven the co-captain of Xavier School’s debate team in his senior year, but he was also the first student in his school to ever make it to the national round of the Philippine Schools Debate Championship three times, a feat that the tournament has only seen once before.
Bright Plans: A tuition grant from the Singapore government dictates that Steven works in the country for three years after graduation. He plans on using that time to study further and probably pursue graduate studies. A career as a lawyer is definitely still in his cards.
Xavier alumni Alexander Go, Steven Sy, and Alfonso Tan
Interviews by Alicia Sy, Hannah Lazatin, Paolo Chua, and Alix Goño.
Makeup by Patrick Joseph Alcober and Don de Jesus.
Hair by Expedito Arabe and Jelanie Patricio.