Woah, UP Cebu's Very First Summa Cum Laude Didn't Actually Pass the UPCAT

"Wala akong kahit ano. Ang meron lang ako ay isang pangarap."
by Leika Golez   |  Aug 1, 2022
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Juan Paolo Santos, Facebook/upcebutugani
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While passing a college entrance exam is a surefire way to get into your dream school, failing it doesn’t mean the end of the world. Take it from Juan Paolo Santos, a failed UPCAT taker who ended up graduating summa cum laude. Wow! 

Not only that—he’s also the class valedictorian and UP Cebu’s first-ever summa cum laude since it became a constituent university. The BS Mathematics major managed to graduate with a 1.187 cumulative average grade, the highest that the university has seen since 2016. 

During his valedictory speech, Juan Paolo got candid about how he dealt with his previous failure. Apparently, he initially wanted to study in one of UP’s Metro Manila campuses. “Bakit ako nag-aaral sa UP Cebu? My dream was to study BS Math in UP. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pass any of my UPCAT courses and campus applications. When the UPCAT result was released, my name wasn’t there,” he said.


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In an interview with Rappler, he further clarified that he fell asleep during the entrance exam because he was so exhausted from his long commute to Quezon City. “Around the Mathematics part of the exam, I fell asleep because I was so tired,” he shared, adding that he struggled in the reading comprehension portion as well. 


Although he didn’t know anyone in Visayas, he bit the bullet and applied for reconsideration in UP Diliman, UP Los Banos, UP Baguio, and UP Cebu. After UP Cebu accepted his appeal, he also secured a scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology. 

Since he couldn’t even speak Cebuano at the time, he never expected to get good grades, let alone graduate with Latin honors.  “Wala akong kapamilya, wala akong kamag-anak, wala akong kaibigan, wala akong kakilala, wala akong kahit ano. Ang meron lang ako ay isang pangarap,” he recounts. 


Dapat pangarap niyo, hindi pangarap ng parents niyo, hindi pangarap ng mga kaibigan niyo. Pangarap man yan para sa bayan, o para sa pamilya, dapat pangarap niyo,” he added. 

Now that the 22-year-old has graduated with flying colors, he advises his fellow fresh graduates to keep working towards their dream in their own unique way. “0.00001% is not equal to 0,” he shared. “One plus one is not always two. Do not go for the obvious solutions; define your own operations, your ways and your actions.”

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Leika Golez
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