Poverty not a hindrance to UP summa cum laude's success

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2014 12:55 PM | Updated as of Apr 25 2014 12:08 AM

Alexander John Cruz

MANILA – For Alexander John Cruz, summa cum laude and valedictorian of the University of the Philippines’ chemical engineering class of 2014, poverty is not a hindrance to succeed in life.

Cruz made the statement as he shared his story in an interview on “Umagang Kay Ganda” on Thursday.

Born and raised in Nueva Ecija, Cruz said he initially planned on continuing his studies in the province because his family cannot afford to send him to a university in Metro Manila.

But because he has been doing well in high school – he graduated valedictorian – Cruz was offered a DOST scholarship and was able to study in UP for free. 

“Sa totoo lang po, hindi po ako dapat mag-aaral sa Metro Manila… Dapat po sa Nueva Ecija kasi po wala po kaming sapat na pera para mag-aral po ako sa Metro Manila,” he said. 

“Kaso noong nagkaroon po ako ng scholarship sa DOST, nabigyan po ako ng opportunity para mag-aral sa UP ng free tuition fee. Tapos meron pong monthly stipend,” he added.

Cruz’ mother, aunts and cousins strived to fill the role left by his father, which he never knew. This and the daily struggle of poverty were among the many problems Cruz had to go through as a student.

“Inspirasyon ko po talaga sa pag-aaral ang family ko sa probinsiya. Kasi unlike po sa ibang mga bata na parang nasa kanila na ang lahat, mag-aaral na lang sila, ako po marami pong mga challenges sa buhay kagaya po ng kakulangan sa pera. Tapos po ‘yung mga challenges sa family ko, so ‘yun po talaga ang naging drive ko para magpursige,” Cruz explained.

Feeling “overwhelmed” and “fulfilled” that he was able to finish at the top of his class in college, Cruz said he hopes to give back to the community by being part of the academe.

“Una, gusto ko pong magkaroon ng isang stable job dito sa Pilipinas. At saka po sa dulo, gusto ko pong mag-give back sa bansa by being a professor in UP, bumalik sa academe para mag-inspire ng mga kabataan kasi hindi naman po kasi talaga hadlang ‘yung kahirapan,” he said.

“Yung sa mga kabataan na sinasabi nila na hindi nila kaya ‘yung pag-aaral sa Manila, ‘yung mga mahihirap na lessons sa school, pagka po nag-pursige lang po sila, for sure magtatagumpay sila sa kanilang mga endeavors,” he ended.