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This year, they are called "the power set." They have stood out above the crowd. They have surpassed the labyrinths of college and emerged from both its burdens and joys with the highest academic award there is – summa cum laude. This series of profiles, penned by Angelo Lorenzo, Alex Belen, and Stephen Pedroza, is dedicated to the three exemplary graduates of Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan for school year 2016-2017, who magnified the meaning of Magis in pursuit of knowledge and excellence. This is but an attempt to tell what made them the "ideal students," what struggles they've had to contend with, what inspires them in their journeys, and who they are outside the hallmarks of the university. These are their stories.

A profile by Alex Belen

His name is Jay Nelson Corbita. His road towards becoming a summa cum laude was not an easy trail. It was one that he could not have done all by himself.

Jay’s father worked as a school janitor in a private school near their home and his mother sold ice candies, hotcakes, and banana cue, all so that they could have a roof over their heads, a meal in their bellies, and quality education.

Love your family

He was raised to never have an idle moment, and to study hard, especially when it comes to preparing for exams. It was because of his parents’ persistence and guidance that Jay graduated from elementary school as class valedictorian and was able to get a scholarship at a nearby private high school.

His streak didn’t stop there, as he also graduated valedictorian in high school and in the process bagged a college scholarship here at Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan.

His siblings were no slouch either, as his two brothers influenced his choice of program. “My brothers influenced me to take mechanical engineering. During the time when I had to choose a program, one of them was already a licensed mechanical engineer and one was a graduating mechanical engineering student. Aside from the free books I can get from them as references, they could also give me pieces of advice in one way or another as I take my course,” Corbita narrates.

Although they did not have much financially, Corbita says that his family has always been close to one another.

“Ever since we were little, our parents always taught us to help each other in times of problems and to share what we have with each other. My parents were the ones who disciplined me to work hard in school, especially when it comes to studying. Besides being disciplinarians, they always find time to bond with me and my siblings,” he says.

His parents would often joke around with them, the children, especially when they have nothing else to do after work.

When it comes to his siblings, Corbita says: “We treat each other more like of a barkada (clique). We often have petty fights but after those, we end up bonding with each other. We usually spend our bonding time through playing basketball.”

But as Jay went through college, one level after the other, they rarely had those bonding moments as a complete family.

“This was due to the demands of my brothers' works. Currently, my eldest brother work as a sales agent based in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and usually, he can only come home at least twice a month. My other brother has his own family already. But in spite of the distance, we always see to it that we regularly communicate with each other. We always see to it that we maintain that close family ties that we always had.”

Pressure and success

Corbita described his student life as “a life in pursuit of academic excellence and quality learning.”

“As a valedictorian back in high school, a lot of things were really expected of me, especially by my high school teachers. When I entered college, I really had that big dream of graduating a summa cum laude. At first, I had a lot of doubts. But when I received my final grades in my first semester in college, I realized that I could make that dream come true.”

With the boosted confidence and “pressure” he received from almost everyone he knew, he thought of that dream all the time, something that’s etched deeply in his core.

"At the start of every semester, I always have that personal vision of getting an A in the subjects I will take. I would spend nights without sleep just to keep up with that vision. But aside from the academic excellence, I also have that passion for learning."

"I feel a certain excitement every time I learn something new, especially in the field of science. For me, that passion contributed a lot to my academic success.”

After five years of defying odds and exerting sheer determination, Jay Nelson Corbita rose as a summa cum laude in Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering of the Class of 2017.

At present, he is reviewing for his board exams on the 28th and 29th of September this year.

“I am who I am now because of my family and because of God who was always there for our family,” Jay says.∎

The priestly devotion of Emmanuel Sumayang by Angelo Lorenzo
The enduring love for literature and music of Miss Eunice Baliong by Stephen Pedroza