Usually, adolescence is the period in our lives when we get to admire people to the point of hero worshipping them. Though I met this person when I was in my elementary days I only admired her for what she was when I was in my teen years. At that time, she was the perfect person for me (not in the romantic way) and I wanted to be like her. I was always in awe of her scholastic and extra-curricular achievements that I promised myself that I would also do the same someday. Though I did not graduate as a high school valedictorian like her, I surpassed her other achievements. She got zero in one of the quiz contests she joined in during her time (that included both public and private high schools in our province), but I managed to be number one. She didn’t qualify for a regional writing competition but I did. And for the first time in our high school history, somebody  made it to the top five in the national level. I was in the same league as those who went to more prestigious high schools such as ADMU, UP, and DLSU. Who would ever think that a girl from a school no one had heard of would make it to the top five of the country’s junior writing competition – the most prestigious among secondaary schools at that time? And it was all because of my admiration for this girl.

A few years after, I learned from my older sister, her classmate, that she didn’t finish her bachelor’s degree in the country’s leading state university. I was shocked, of course, because everybody, including me,  expected her to graduate with honors. Though I did not graduate with an academic distinction in the same university, I finished my undergraduate degree. I even got accepted for a graduate scholarship in the top three university in Japan.

As I held my Ph.D. diploma for the first time in March 2007, I thought about her. I knew, I will always be thankful for the inspiration that she had provided me.