Gen Z Pinoy, nagtapos ng magna cum laude sa University of Hong Kong

Annalyn 'Apol' Mabini | TFC News Hong Kong

Posted at Aug 04 2022 01:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2022 02:34 PM

HONG KONG -- Nagtapos bilang magna cum laude ang Gen Z Pinoy na si Kevin Lorenzo Erodias de Guzman sa isa sa best global universities sa Hong Kong - sa University of Hong Kong o HKU noong July 16, 2022. Ginanap ang kanilang graduation ceremony sa Grand Hall, Centennial Campus ng HKU. Tinapos niya ang kursong Bachelor of Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology, minoring in Counselling. 

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Si Kevin Lorenzo Erodias de Guzman sa kanyang graduation day sa HKU noong July 16, 2022

A fun-loving geek. 

Ibinahagi ni Kevin sa TFC News kung paano niya inilalarawan ang kanyang sarili: 

“I would describe myself as a fun-loving geek that enjoys gaming, board games and theatre. I’m the type of person that believes my closest friends are as important as family,” sabi ni Kevin.

Nalaman niyang magtatapos siya bilang magna cum laude noong ikatlong linggo ng June 2022. 

“Around June 21, I was just waiting for my grades online. To be honest by this time, I was more worried about the upcoming Fringe Festival and had been rehearsing since.  

I just felt relieved that I was done with my Bachelor's degree. It was a sort of bittersweet ending because transitioning from studying to working is such a hard thing, but the feelings of 'Will I get accepted into the Master’s programme I want?' or 'Will I land that internship?' always lingered,” sabi ni Kevin. 

Sa edad na 23, ganito siya ilarawan ng kanyang 55 anyos na amang si Noel de Guzman, isang kilalang Filipino visual artist sa Hong Kong: 

“Best Actor. Gamer. Member of a Shakespeare Theatre Group. Steak Lover. Chess Champ. Church Choir Member. Pasta Lover. Minimalist. Public Speaking Champ. Greek food lover. Board Game Geek.” 

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Si Kevin kasama ang kanyang parents sa Hong Kong International Airport noon July 24, 2022 bago tumulak patungong Edinburgh, Scotland

Kasalukuyang nasa Edinburgh, Scotland si Kevin dahil bahagi siya ng isang theatre performance sa Fringe Festival na gaganapin mula August 6 hanggang 13, 2022:  

“We’re performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the largest arts festival in the world. The theatre performance is called “Double Unhappiness,” it’s a collection of original monologues and a duologue that were written by Hong Kongers. The characters are set in a Chinese wedding banquet and all slowly show their secrets and frustrations through these monologues, which range from Kpop stan culture to office life to Indian gossip culture. My character is a part of the only duologue in the performance and he’s a pyraminx-loving bartender.” 

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(left) Si Kevin sa kanyang graduation day | (right) Si Kevin nang tinanggap ang kanyang INCINEMA 2021 Best Actor award

Not just one, but two magna cum laudes in the family.  

Hindi lang si Kevin ang nagtapos with great distinction sa kanilang pamilya dahil nagtapos ding magna cum laude ang kanyang kuyang millenial na si Andrei Louis, 27 years old. 

“Andrei...is also a Second Honor, First Division (equivalent to Magna Cum Laude). He finished 2 majors: Business Management and Marketing at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2017 (QS World Ranking - 27).  

Andrei now works as an assistant manager at the Hong Kong Airport Authority (pre-pandemic, it was the most profitable airport in the world). This is his first job and has been with the company for 5 years now,” pagbabahagi ni Noel. 

Ayon naman sa 56 anyos na si Katherine “Kathy” de Guzman, ina ng magkapatid at isang banker sa HK, higit pa sa honors na natanggap ng kanilang bunso, ipinagpapasalamat niyang nakapagtapos ang anak sa HKU: 

“I was beyond grateful. More than the honors, it was being able to complete his Uni at one of the world's top schools. Getting to a Uni in HK is not that easy. One has to pass and significantly get high marks in the  Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education, which is HK's university entrance examination.”   

“We bought them more books than toys...” 

Proud parents sina Noel at Kathy sa kanilang dalawang anak na sina Andrei at Kevin. 

“We are delighted and honored as parents to have 2 magna cum laudes. I always remind my boys to study well so they can have a brighter future. Without putting much pressure, instead, I provide inspiration and encouragement, sending them to Chinese tutorial classes after school.  

We bought them more books than toys, and they seem to be happy with that. I remember I told them my story as a University of the Philippines Fine Arts student who didn't have much financial support. In eagerness to attend school, even days without allowances, I would piggyback and hitch rides in public jeepneys... just to attend school,” sabi ni Noel. 

Dagdag ni Kathy, malaking bahagi ng tagumpay ng kanilang mga anak ang pagiging fluent nila sa Chinese language. Pinagsumikapan ng magkapatid na maging mahusay sa pagsasalita, pagbasa at pagsusulat sa wikang Chinese. Parehong bilingual ang magkapatid na mahusay sa English at Chinese. Parehong nakaiintindi ng Tagalog. Habang si Andrei ay marunong din ng Spanish at French samantalang si Kevin ay kasalukuyang nag-aaral ng German language. 

“Kenzo (Kevin) and his brother are few of the many Filipinos who are fluent in the Chinese language. Their fluency is comparable to that of the locals in HK. It was initially a struggle for both of them as they were the only non-Chinese speaking students in schools.   

We had to provide them with Chinese tutors to help them cope with their school work. It did pay off, as both of them were able to survive the rigid curriculum of local schools.  More importantly, it gave them a competitive edge over the locals as they are fluent in both the English and Chinese languages.   

In fact, this edge helped Andrei got into the Management Training program of the Airport Authority - one of the most sough after MTPs in HK. This inspired some friends to also follow suit and send their children also to local schools,” kwento ni Kathy. 

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(L-R) Edeline Mak (Andrei's fiancee), Andrei de Guzman, Kevin de Guzman, Kathy de Guzman, Noel de Guzman

“Don’t bother comparing yourself to another person’s path...” 

Huwag ikumpara ang sarili sa iba. Yan ang naging gabay ni Kevin para hindi panghinaan ng loob ng hindi siya umubrang makapasok sa HKU noon. Nasungkit niya ang kanyang magna cum laude honors sa HKU matapos ang 5 taon. 

“After the secondary school public examination, despite getting very good grades, I didn’t do well in Chinese. So I was technically ineligible to enter a local university.   

HKU initially gave me a chance by giving me an interview but I wasn’t well prepared and ended up doing an Associate degree instead.   

So, I took 2 years of an Associate in Applied Social Sciences in Psychology before entering HKU on a senior year entry; sometimes I’d still feel inadequate because of this, despite the fact that if I had just gotten a slightly better score in Chinese, I would be able to enter HKU with no problems. The main thing here is that we all have our different roads, don’t bother comparing yourself to another person’s path,” sabi ni Kevin. 

“How to be you po?”  

Ibinahagi ni Kevin kung paano nga ba maging high academic achiever:  

“Just 2 things really. Firstly, designate places in your life that help you switch between work and play mode. If you only work and limit your playing or relaxing in certain places, such as the university library, a certain cafe or even a specific table in your home, you can associate these spots with working and vice versa. Then, you can easily go from working in the living room to relaxing and watching Youtube in your bedroom. The hardest part is the initial building of this habit. 

Secondly, it’s foolish to tell people to not procrastinate, because at the end of the day, we’re young students who’d prefer to socialise, game or go down the Youtube rabbit hole. We’re supposed to start our coursework weeks in advance but not everyone can or would want to do that, so instead, something that I do is a sort of planned procrastination. I generally have a good idea of how long it takes for me to write. So what I would do is wait for the last week or two, depending on the paper length. I’d use a couple of hours in the initial two to three days to research and come up with an outline. Then I’d write a chunk of the paper everyday, and would still have enough time to be distracted by my phone whilst writing. If your deadline is on Friday, something like two hours on Monday and two hours on Tuesday for research, then combine everything for an outline on Wednesday and you can start with writing too. Afterwards, you write a bit on Thursday and finish everything on Friday. It’d be too stressful to actually do everything on Friday, so force yourself to do bit by bit on the days beforehand.”  

Para kay Kevin, mahalaga ang naging papel ng kanyang pamilya sa kanyang academic excellence: 

“They’re pretty important, they gave me the encouragement and the guidance I needed throughout my studies.”  

Para naman sa kanyang inang si Kathy, lahat ng bagay sa buhay dapat pinagsusumikapan: 

“We have inculcated in our sons the value of education and hard work.  There is no easy road to success, we often reminded them. As parents, though we want our children to excel, we also need to be mindful of their learning difficulties. That way, we are able to understand our children better and are able to motivate them effectively.” 

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De Guzman family

Nag-migrate si Noel sa Hong Kong taong 1993, sumunod naman ang kanyang maybahay na si Kathy noong 1994. Parehong ipinanganak at lumaki na sa Hong Kong sina Andrei at Kevin. May permanent residency na sa syudad ang buong pamilya de Guzman. Nagbahagi ng mensahe si Noel para sa mga tulad nilang migrant Filipinos sa Hong Kong: 

“Learn to read, write and speak Chinese. That's how Filipinos can become competitive in the HK labor market. It's a tip for parents who have young primary school students. However, many Filipino parents in HK enroll their children in English schools. Looking around, I can say only around 3-5% of parents let their children enroll in local schools due to fear that their children won't be able to pick up the Chinese language. The fear is valid as Chinese is one difficult language to learn.

My message to parents who have children studying in college is... encourage them to have a "growth mindset". Always learn something new. Even after graduation, one should continue to acquire new knowledge."