"More than the title and recognition, [this achievement] serves as a personal reminder that nothing quite beats the feeling of hard work paying off," University of the Philippines Department of History Batch 2016 Summa Cum Laude Julia Agoncillo muses, when asked about getting the top honor in her graduating batch. Her journey in college has finally come to an end with colors flying sky-high (her general weighted average is a whooping 1.122). And yet it's just the beginning of another route she's about to take.
Before she entered UP and signed up to History, though, she reveals her original choice was actually chemical engineering or biology. Then she realized she's, "better off studying history because it’s always been among my favorite subjects in school."
Now, after she gets hold of her diploma, she's looking into interning with a management consulting firm, and eventually, pursue a master's degree on social sciences.
Hers is an inspiring journey: Getting to the peak of the summit before she even realized she already got there shows how she's stayed grounded even after this great recognition. And she's more than just her brains—get to know Julia apart from the Summa title:
1. She was already a stellar student in high school. Her former days were filled with so much activity. "Performing well academically is important in my family, but it isn’t everything because they believe that having extra-curricular activities also play a big role in students’ holistic development," she shares. So aside from busy days in the library, she squeezes time for the student council, the school paper, and a socio-civic organization that organizes visits to the pediatric wards of the Philippine General Hospital. Talk about being well-rounded.
2. She has a soft spot for maritime-related matters. Although she chose to pursue BA Kasaysayan as her course, she admits her passion also lies in marine conservation. Serving as an officer for the UP Marine Biological Society, she's gone through journeys underwater a lot of times. She recalls her most memorable dive was with UP MBS in and around Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro, but she also goes to Anilao or Binukbok in Batangas with her dad. [related: LENSpeak: This Filipina Freediver Will Make You Want to Explore the Deep Underwater]
3. Aside from water sports, she can also play volleyball or football. She's known for her advocacy in marine environment, ocean conservation, and the likes. But she's totally game if you ask her for a round of ball!
4. She's a family woman. "I spend most of my free time hanging out with my cousins and grandparents," Julia imparts. She also shares this story about the origin of her nickname (she's known to many as Chiqui), "It has always been my nickname, but it is in no way connected to my real names. Right before I was born, my two older sisters decided to name me after our neighbor's dog, and my parents let them." [related: Family First: 5 Sister Bonding Activities KC Concepcion Loves Treating Her Siblings To]
5. And speaking of dogs, she's fond of these furry friends, too. It's her pastime to cuddle with their family pets!
6. Her interests extend to art. From Nat King Cole to Coldplay to Daft Punk, listening to different records show how she's able to appreciate different music genres. She recently lent her family's '60s and '70s vinyl records to her friend, which she says she's excited to play! Aside from music, she also loves visiting museums and exhibits, and watching musical shows and theatrical productions. "Especially those by fellow students at Dulaang UP!" School pride, yes!
7. Her inspiration? Her grandfather. "There are many people who inspire me, but the first person I think of is him. He inspires me not only in terms of what he’s achieved, but also–and more importantly–because he is the most generous person I know. On top of that, he is a mentor, boss, alaga, travel buddy, and kabarkada rolled into one."
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Photographs from news.abs-cbn.com and Instagram.com/2pc.chix