By Erika Sauler -
“A grade is just a number,” said Tiffany Grace Uy, shrugging off the distinction of getting the highest postwar weighted average grade (WAG) from the University of the Philippines (UP).
READ: Biology student breaks highest grade record in post-war UP
Uy’s WAG of 1.004 surpassed the previous record set by John Gabriel Pelias, a BS Mathematics graduate, who got 1.016.
“It’s only circumstantial evidence of what you’ve learned,” added the 22-year-old Biology graduate. “A true measure of what you’ve learned is (its) application toward serving the country.”
Not surprisingly, this overachiever is on her way to doing just that, have received an award for best undergraduate thesis for her research on resistance to breast cancer.
“Breast cancer incidence is particularly high in the Philippines. Not only is the incidence high, but we also have a very low survival rate,” Uy told the Inquirer in an interview. “So I want to study the resistance mechanism. I want to overcome it.”
She plans to channel her passion for cancer research into medical studies, added this Oblation Scholar.
Oblation Scholars, the top 50 qualifiers of the UP College Admission Test, are entitled to free tuition and miscellaneous fees, plus book, transportation and incentive allowances.
Uy, one of the university’s 29 summa cum laudes this year, will lead 4,431 other graduates during this year’s graduation ceremonies at UP Diliman, Quezon City, on Sunday.
“There’s too much expectation,” she said. “I have a huge responsibility to prove myself, not through words, but rather through my career in the future as a doctor. I really want to serve the Filipino nation.”
At the recognition rites at the Institute of Biology on Friday, such ponderous words apparently had no place, as the well-liked top graduate horsed around with her batchmates who took turns having a selfie taken with her. “For when you’ve become famous,” they said.
That might come sooner than expected, as already, Uy has become popular on social media for acing all her subjects, except Art Studies 1 where she got a grade of 1.25.
“I don’t think she will have sleepless nights because of that GE (general education). She thought her grade was OK,” said Uy’s program adviser, Ian Kendrich Fontanilla, who added that the top student is also “very humble and helpful to her classmates.”
“I actually found it kinda funny,” Uy said of her grade. “I realized I had a long way to go in art studies, (so) I opted to take ArtStud 2 the following semester and found it a blast. It awakened the struggling artist inside me.”
Uy said she never aspired to get 1 in all her subjects. “I have this idea that no matter what subject it is, it’s the knowledge that I can use to help in the future that’s worth it.”
In fact, she added, she personally believes she’s “not too bright.”
“What takes a regular person one reading to understand can take me three or 10 (readings). I really study late into the night,” she said.
Studying at UP exposed her to social injustices that also frustrated her because, as a student, she felt there was little she could do, Uy recalled.
“I wanted to graduate earlier so I’d become a doctor sooner,” Uy said. The next best thing, she found out, was “joining medical missions organized by our church to help the community.”
‘A doctor made me feel safe’
Uy’s parents, both of them doctors, inspired her to become one, she said, though the decisive factor was the memory of getting stitches for a head cut when she was 6.
“I was awake when I had the stitches and I was scared. But I remember the doctor making me feel safe. And I wanted to be that kind of person whom people can run to for help and comfort, especially in their darkest hour,” Uy said.
“I felt like that would make for a meaningful life,” she added.
Come August, Uy starts her studies at the UP College of Medicine. In the meantime, she’s spending her vacation doing more laboratory work to fine-tune her thesis on cancer for possible publication in a journal.
“(My professors) want me to publish (my thesis),” she said. “Of course, it’s a very rudimentary thing because I’m just an undergrad student. What I’m doing is just the edge of the edge of the icing. (But) I hope if I publish it, others will gain information,” she added.
Despite her academic feats, Uy is as normal as anyone her age: Finding time to scuba dive (“I recently got licensed.”), maintaining a relationship with her boyfriend of six years, watching animé cartoons and treasuring a Pikachu stuffed toy from her grandmother.
- This story originally appeared at Inquirer.net. Photo by Marianne Bermudez.