A 28-year-old Filipina proved that achievement derives from hard work after graduating summa cum laude from a top medical school in Italy.
Arenn Faye Carlos finished Medicine and Surgery in English (Harvey International Course) at the University of Pavia School of Medicine, with a final mark of 110/110 summa cum Laude et Encomium or highest honors and Right to Publication, the highest possible recognition of the quality of the work in her field.
The board appreciated the originality and content of her work. They also wanted to publish scientific articles from her thesis entitled “BRAIN BANKING: The challenges of unveiling the clinical, biochemical and neuropathological correlations in brain aging".
Her thesis aims to promote how brain banks are necessary to obtain brain tissue for researchers to work on, in order to understand neurological disease mechanisms and to find biomarkers useful for early diagnosis, disease monitoring, and novel pharmacological treatment production.
Carlos’ journey was never easy as she had to break the language and culture barriers in order to reach her dream of becoming a doctor.
Moving to Italy at 14 was really difficult for Carlos as she missed home and didn't know the language. It was a challenge for her to attend school, especially when she was put in a class of 11- and 12- year-olds, barely speaking a word in Italian.
While she was used to being top of the class in the Philippines, not understanding anything because of the language made her feel really bad about herself and felt everything was a waste of time. She then stopped attending classes.
“I felt like my dream of becoming a doctor just became impossible to reach. It was a time that I just prayed all the time,” she said.
Carlos thrived with the negative stereotypes that Filipinos will not flourish in the Italian society.
“I set my goals and did everything I could do. I encountered many setbacks, but I didn't let them overcome me. I just kept going and never gave up. At the end, it always feels good to triumph over adversities,” she said.
“It doesn't matter where you're from or what your background is, all that matters is where you're going. Aim for the highest and work hard for it! As the Filipino saying, "nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa’."
She considers her achievement a form of gratitude to her parents, and wants to encourage fellow Filipinos to follow their dreams despite being in the racial and ethnic minority.
Diligence, perseverance and commitment propel Filipinos to success. With these traits, Carlos is set to take another step in becoming the first Filipino neurologist in Italy.