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Hard work, family: How this UP Summa Cum Laude made it to the top

“If you want something, you really have to work for it. You can’t settle for mediocrity. That’s cliché but it’s what’s going to work.”

Kind-hearted. Friendly. Family-oriented. Spontaneous. Smart. These are just some words used to describe Ma. Patricia R. Riego de Dios, a summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

Known by her friends as RDD, she graduated from a BS Psychology course during the recently held university graduation on June 28, 2015. She says her success story all started when she chose to take her time.

When she was about to start college, Trisha was torn between two options: to take an undergraduate course in UP Diliman or to take UP Manila’s Intarmed program (Integrated Liberal – Arts Medicine) to pursue her career in medicine. She then decided to push with the former because she didn't want to rush things. She wanted to know what taking an undergraduate course feels like – enjoying things one step at a time.

And enjoy things she did. Aside from academics, this young achiever was also involved with a number of student organizations – UP Pugad Sayk, Mandala (a yearbook committee organization), and AIESEC. Though she admits there were times she gave more of her time to her organizational commitments, Trisha knew her priorities really well.

“Family on top all the time. Kasi in my family, I grew up with the idea that they’ll always be there for me... Sila yung matatakbuhan ko all the time. (In my family, I grew up with the idea that they'll always be there for me... They're the people I can run to all the time.) Second, acads. Then orgs after. I have to face the responsibilities that come with it. After that, the rest.”

How did she do it? With so much going on, Trisha managed her time by listing down everything that had to be done so that she knew what to do first and what to do next. She also has a habit of giving herself deadlines earlier than what was given by her professors and orgs.

Being one of the 29 summa cum laude graduates in the 104th general commencement exercise of the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Trisha is nothing short of amazing. Although, Trisha strongly believes that she is no different from other UP students. Who she is right now is all because of the solid support system she has: her family. She also surrounds herself with the right people who have influenced her to go for the extra mile.

“UP actually pushed me out of my comfort zone in the sense that it actually challenged me to explore things. The type of people I hang out with now, I wouldn’t have imagined hanging out with them way before.”

Trisha never thought she would have as big as an achievement as graduating summa cum laude. UP even chose her to speak on behalf of all the graduates during the university graduation among all the summa graduates.

What's the best thing she learned from college?

“The best thing I learned is to always have a backup plan. Sometimes your backup plan ends up being the better plan.”

Her next stop? Med school.

Being in a family of doctors who are her inspiration to do better, Trisha plans to take up Developmental Pediatrics in UP Manila. She hopes to be a practicing doctor years from now. Aside from med, she still plans to be spending her time around a good set of people – family and a few friends whom she always looks up to.

Even though this gal has one of the highest general weighted averages (GWAs) in this year’s UP grad, she has kept her feet planted on the ground with her head focused on a goal. Despite everything that she has achieved, what keeps success coming to her over and over again would probably be her attitude towards life and how she sees everything as a blessing. She says,

“I don’t want people to think I’m different just because I’m summa or whatever. It’s heartwarming if ever they actually look at me as inspiration but one way to look at their inspiration is their ideal self. We’re all just humans. What inspires me is what I want to be so I guess that’s what they should see as well.”

To her fellow graduates, she says:

“First of all, congratulations for surviving how many years in UP. It’s not a joke to survive UP. When we step outside of UP, I hope we don’t end being Iskolars ng Bayan, so let’s all try to live out everything we learned from UP. We’re blessed to be in UP because it gave us a lot of struggles in a good way. Di pa siya lahat ng real struggles of life but it at least prepared us for what’s yet to come. (It's not all the struggles life has to offer, but it at least prepared us for what's yet to come.) I expect everyone to do best in our fields. Good luck and see you around.”

Leaving UP Diliman will be hard for Trisha. It is where she found her friends who are as diverse as she is. What will bring her back to her Alma Mater would always be the memories she got from her four-year stay in this institution she calls her second home.

“I like just walking around UP. I’ll miss the beautiful campus. In UP Diliman, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You don’t know who you’ll meet next. I’ll miss the variety and diversity in UP.”

To Trish and the rest of the UP graduates of batch 2015, congratulations!

*Interviewed by: Iya Brucal and Kat Tuaño