CAGAYAN DE ORO - Five years after he set foot in a busy city far from the serene mountains he came from, 22-year-old Jession Diwangan could not believe he graduated cum laude with a degree in electronics engineering.
As a member of Umayamnon tribe in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, Jession could hardly turn on a computer before entering college.
But Diwangan got the opportunity of a lifetime to study in a university in the city after qualifying as a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“Hindi ko talaga alam ang gagawin kasi nanibago ako sa siyudad, nanibago ako sa klima at lifestyle ng mga tao. Kaya hindi ko ine-expect na may ma-achieve akong something,” he said.
Richel Petalcurin, former moderator of university-based organization STREAM, said she met Jession 5 years ago in one of their enrichment classes with incoming college students from the hinterlands.
Seeing Jession's determination, she was not surprised that he graduated with flying colors.
"He was very determined, he is a very curious student. Nakakatawa nga iniisip ko kami pa yung gumawa ng Gmail account niya just to submit all the enrollment documents... but now he is a cum laude," Petalcurin said.
Jession's mother Gina said she hopes fellow tribe members would see her son as an inspiration to finish their studies, saying poverty is never a hindrance for achieving greater things.
"Masayang, masaya ako.. Sana maging salamin siya sa lahat ng kabataan," she said.
Proud as they were to be part of Umayamnon tribe, Gina and Jession stood out wearing their tribal attire during the graduation rites.
After graduation, Jession will take his review in Cebu City as preparation for the electronics engineering board examination.
He hopes to work someday in the semiconductor industry for him to be able to provide for his family.