Success is often measured in awards, positions or money. But the top student of the University of the Philippines Visayas, who earned an almost-perfect general weighted average of 1.099, thinks otherwise.
"It's not really about reaching high," UP Visayas's first summa cum laude, Raoul Danniel Manuel, told ABS-CBNnews.com. "It's more of reaching out to others."
Manuel is no stranger to academic success. He was class valedictorian of the SPED–Integrated School for Exceptional Children in 2007 and also the valedictorian of UP High School in Iloilo in 2011.
Grades, of course, are always important, he conceded, but there is more to student life than these numbers.
"I believe that as Iskolar ng Bayan, I also have a responsibility to go beyond the four walls of the classroom and be involved in campus and societal issues," he said.
"[It's about] offering what I have in order to help others and be of service to my fellow Filipinos."
Manuel walks the talk. Apart from his grades, he is also a leader in several organizations and even served as the chairperson of the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council during the school year 2014-2015.
Manuel also prides himself of being a front-liner in protests and rallies as an activist.
"I feel proud because there are some people who really stereotype student-activists. They say activists do not do well in class or they do not attend classes, they just do rallies," he said.
"I want to be remembered not just a number or GWA, but as an 'Iskolar ng Bayan' who devoted time in joining rallies and joining the Filipino people in their struggles for decent living," he said.
Asked for his advice for other students, the 20-year-old stressed one word: purpose.
"Mag-aral nang mabuti pero huwag magpakulong sa apat na sulok ng klasrum. Pag-aralan ang lipunan nang sa gayon ay maging makabuluhan ang edukasyong nakamtan," he said.
- This story originally appeared at ABS-CBN News.