The Gift of an Ateneo Education

Every year, Ateneo's Office of Admission and Aid receives more than 800 applications for scholarship support. Only about 250 scholarships are awarded, even though most of the other 550 applicants clearly deserve to be granted financial aid, if only there were enough scholarships to go by.

The scholars, truly grateful to their donors for providing the opportunity to study here in the Ateneo, shared their experiences and realizations on how the Ateneo education transformed them  into better persons in the areas of professional excellence, leadership, character, spirituality, and service. Here are some of them:


Julienne Alexis L. Joven (AB Communication 2014) delivered this speech on behalf of the graduating scholars during the Get-together of Merit, Academic, and Director's List Scholars held last July 22, 2013. This annual event was organized by the Office of Admission and Aid in celebration of the achievements of the Merit, Academic and Director's List scholars of the Loyola Schools. The occasion's theme was "Superheroes".


Mr. Rudy Ang, Acting Vice President to the Loyola Schools, Dean Marlu Vilches, Acting Dean Darwin Yu, Dean Evangeline Bautista, Dean Jun Aguilar, Dr. Jumela Sarmiento, the Office of Admission and Aid, fellow scholars - good evening.

When I first learned that I was going to be the speaker for this year’s dinner, I asked OAA, “Bakit ako?” They told me that it was because I was active in my org life. True enough, when I summarized my four years in college, I realized I was a member of 9 orgs and 2 youth groups outside Ateneo. Confused akong bata eh. I went into theater, communication, literature, student publications, and even the humanities at one point. Thankfully, nahanap ko na [ang] niche ko and I am currently the President of my home org, the Ateneo Association of Communication Majors.

I’m sure some of you are like how I was before – siguro the freshmen and the sophomores – still finding their niche in college. Others – the juniors and the seniors here – are already sure of what they want. Tama ba, guys? Alam na natin kung anong gagawin after college, ‘di ba?

Today, I will share with you my experience as a student leader and as a scholar hero. So what makes a hero? As Wonder Woman’s bracelets deflect bullets with the sound of “Pew! Pew!”, so my 3 bullet points today can be summarized in the word “pew.”

A true scholar hero has P, E, and W.

P stands for People. During one of my sister’s org talks, the speaker told them that when he was in college, he got good grades, much like you guys are getting now. But when he was looking for an internship, he had a hard time. He asked, “What am I doing wrong?” And he realized it was because he wasn’t active in an org.

Okay, so hindi ko naman binebenta sa inyo ang COA or Sanggu. It’s just that we scholars, being the “geniuses” of Ateneo, sometimes think that grades are all that matter. NO! Employers see more value in a person who knows how to socialize and lead others than in a person with a good QPI but who does not know how to deal with people or how to make friends.

In the end, we are not just students or scholars or geniuses. A true hero is a P, [a] person.

E stands for Empowerment. I have this favorite quote from Lao Tzu which I try to live by. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” The sign of a true leader is when he or she makes other leaders.

If you act like a Superman or a Wonder Woman, pinupuri ka ng lahat, but forget to also elevate others, what is the use of your being a hero? Ikaw lang [ang] magaling. Kapag nawala ka, babagsak lahat. Yun ba yung tunay na leader, self-glorifying? A true hero can E, empower.

Lastly, W in PEW stands for Wolverine. I got this from my Theo 121 class with Sir Ray Aguas. He said for example, ilalagay kita sa isang kuwarto kasama ni Wolverine tapos sasabihin ko[ng] kapag kinalaban mo siya sa isang death match, bibigyan kita ng isang milyong dolyar. Tatanggapin niyo ba? Hindi, ‘di ba? Kasi paano mo mae-enjoy yung pera eh sigurado ka na ikaw yung mamamatay. Eh paano kung ilagay ko ang isang minamahal mo sa kuwarto kasama ninyo ni Wolverine tapos sasabihin ko na kung kakalabanin mo si Wolverine, mabibigyan mo ng pagkakataon yung mahal mo na makatakas. Pero siguradong patay ka pa rin. Gagawin mo ba?

There are things that we know are worth fighting for, that even in the face of failure, of shame, and of great personal risk, we know that we would gladly fight for them. We all have something we believe is worth fighting for. Despite having a Wolverine in front of us, the fact that you love something is the only reason you need to fight.

We are Persons before anything else, we serve to Empower others, and (I was joking about the Wolverine) but we know what’s W - Worth fighting for. This is what makes us heroes. Thank you and have a great evening.




Education changes and defines a person. It gives birth to further learning and discovery. It speaks much about what you are and what you can become. Even my most heartfelt words of gratitude would not be enough to describe how thankful I am of the Ateneo education. Ateneo opened me to a huge world filled with life-changing experiences which honed me to become an evolving being. Ateneo nurtures students not only to be future working professionals, but also responsible members of this society.It was my youthful misconception that the only way to succeed in life is to excel in academics. As a science enthusiast, I was caged in the world of empirical knowledge, ignoring other things in the background. College gave me a different taste of learning. Things like human relations, spiritual growth, social concern were given much value here. Ateneo made me realize that there is more to college than just being an academic giant. My eyes were opened to the wholeness of life and the human society. I've always wanted to become a scientist. I thought that only "nerds" could do it. Ateneo freed me from this stereotype. I discovered that I can be a scientist who is also talented, socially aware, and emotionally healthy.

Furthermore, Ateneo helped me learn more about myself, about the things I truly want. For an instance, my JEEP experience made me discover interest in imparting knowledge to other people. By doing the lectures for the Literacy Training Service, I was able to teach the basic things of my major to children of underprivileged backgrounds. Coming from a poor public school myself, I do understand their insecurities. It was a very touching experience to see myself among those people. This made me consider a teaching career as a professor alongside scientific research.I was a Dean's Lister (DL) twice and I have good grades especially on my major subjects. Through constant practice, I developed the skill to adjust my study techniques according to the varied style of professors. Every professor had their own style, and each one gave me inspiration to learn more. The professors were also very approachable. They are always willing to help as long as you really show them that you are really serious. They were positive and they gave me a lot of input. This inspired me to become like them someday. Much of the progress of a nation is based on science. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to be a science major because of the associated difficulty, and possibly lack of interest. This inspired me more to dwell in research. I felt that this is my calling as a person and I feel very enthusiastic in pursuing this.

The Ateneo experience also made me see the things in a different perspective. I gained pride as a Filipino, and I understood much about this society. The Rizal legacy endowed to Ateneans made me realize my identity as a Davaoenia and a Bisayan-speaking Filipino. I became aware of the issues regarding regionalism and the differences in thinking styles between the metropolitan and the province. This made me proud of my heritage, but also aware of our flaws as a nation. This is a very enriching realization. I got to know things which are unimaginable for people in my hometown. This simply made me a more interesting and unique individual.
This university also trained us to be comfortable in working with other people. I played both the roles to be a leader and a follower. I realized my strenghts and weaknesses as a team player and the game gets more and more interesting. The engaging atmosphere is simply intoxicating. I get the chance to work with the best and the brightest of my country. This gave me power to improve myself as a leader. I got to test my resilience in adverse situations, and practice my flexibility in working with different types of people. Whether the task is to make a video presentation, a dance routine, or a lesson plan for students, I always learn something new. I was able to accomplish things which used to be unimaginable. This is a very fulfilling experience. I got to learn to pressure with style. All the stress and pressure fueled my passion and hunger for learning. All the sleepless nights and deadly deadlines became wonderful memories which are fun to remember.

Furthermore, Ateneo inspired me to have a lifetime goal of constantly expanding my schema. My perspective of the world became global. The best way to see our identity is through the eyes of others. I got to view social issues in a macro scale. As a science major, I found interest in bringing advanced technology to the developing world. If we finally gained confidence and pride as a Filipino, then we get to compete globally. This year, I succeeded in becoming the Assistant Vice President for Promotions in the Integrated Marketing Communications of the Harvard Accredited Org, Ateneo Project for Asian and International Relations. This seemed quite far from my comfort zone. However, because of my exposure to political theories in philosophical perspective, I got the energy to dive into unexplored waters. This organization encouraged me to have my voice heard in this global nation. All the conferences and experiences were so enriching that I just cannot help myself but get involved in this global discourse.

The Ateneo system is very generous to students. I found a home away from Davao. The school went beyond what is expected as an educating body. It became a prime producer of great individuals who are well equipped in life's dynamics. We did not get caged in the four corners of the campus but we also went outside to get involved and immersed. The world is a war zone, and the school is our training camp. We have to be well taught and prepared. Thus we have to know who does it best.

- Kimberly Carrillo
BS Biology Minor in Japanese Studies 2013


One of my many realizations this year as a college student is that being an Atenean opens up numerous doors to many different careers and work opportunities. Career talks and networking sessions have shown me that. I have seen that it is very easy to fall into the trap of being a professional only for oneself; that it is easy to tread the path that leads to personal gain at the expense of others. After all, being a Management Economics student, I am constantly told that the optimum profit is one that minimizes costs.

This year has been a major eye-opening year for me. I was very fortunate to have enlisted in Mr. Agustin Rodriguez’s Philosophy class (Ph101 and 102). In the said class, I was made more aware of the abuses and maltreatment that laborers suffer, such as getting paid below the minimum wage and contractualization; all because corporations often opt to minimize wages for greater profits. I have seen that yes, I am very fortunate to have gotten this type of education that affords me a more or less stable future but that I also owe it to my fellow Filipinos to contribute my share in helping minimize inequality in whatever way I can including minimizing personal consumption, patronizing products and services that serve the poor, and ultimately, choosing a career that will best serve my fellow Filipinos.

Philosophy has also showed me that however idealistic, one cannot lose hope in the Philippines; that it is not meant to be this way; that there are ways to help ease the situation and that as a future professional and an Atenean, I have a role to fill that will either better or worsen the situation and that my choices in the future will determine which side I am choosing.

At the beginning of the year, I thought that being in multinational corporations is what I wanted. I have always seen being a corporate lawyer as one of the top jobs on my list. However, I saw that professional excellence does not stop at being outstanding at what you do; I have also learned to consider how being outstanding can affect others, especially the people who are not quite as fortunate. That is, I have now learned to look at other possible career paths that will allow me to work not only for myself and my family but also for others, to be a woman for others not just in words but in practice.

I have long chosen being a lawyer as my future career. However, it is only recently that I have considered possibilities other than corporate law. I am now leaning more towards civil rights and/or labor law in order to possibly take on positions in the Government or in NGOs in the future.

In a way, my Philosophy classes have been equalizers for my Management classes; I cannot imagine being this open to serving others if my Ateneo education have not been equipping me with subjects that not only teach me the technical dimension of being a professional but also the human side to it. I have to admit that before this year, I often hear and sometimes get tired of how Ateneans are always called Men and Women for Others when I do not see the University giving us any opportunity to be so; but this year, the mere opening of my eyes helped me better understand what it truly means. More importantly, it has pushed me to be a woman for others just because there is no better way to be an Atenean and a human than to be as such.

- Ma. Janelli Erika K. Aguinaldo
AB Management Economics 2012

Ms. Aguinaldo is now continuing her further studies at the University of the Philippines College of Law.