Buting Elementary School graduate Ma. Janel Consuelo Perez recently made headlines for her remarkable achievement of getting accepted to several Ivy League schools.
Perez, an International School Manila Scholar, is being welcomed into the fold of Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Yale-NUS College, and Vanderbilt University.
She ultimately decided to pick Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where she is offered the King Scholarship that comes with a four-year full merit scholarship that covers her tuition and boarding, travel internships, extensive mentoring, leadership training, and the stipend.
Perez’s admission was no small feat as the undergraduate admissions in Dartmouth, the smallest of all Ivy League schools, is highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of 8.7 percent for the Class of 2022—her batch.
Being educated in a public elementary school and eventually in a prestigious international school, allowed Perez to see both ends of the spectrum. Just like most students from Filipino middle-class families, she knows how it’s like to make the most of what you have. She makes light of her circumstances, such as commuting at 5 o’clock in the morning to school or doing homework in a poorly-lit jeepney and does not use them as an excuse to neglect her studies.
The spunky 18-year-old proves that even a public school graduate can make it to an Ivy League school or any other prestigious schools, for that matter.
“I just want to convey to other Filipinos that you can do it; it’s possible, nothing’s barring you,” she said.
Here are her tips to unprivileged students who want to succeed in school and in life:
Stop blaming your circumstances
“A lot of other students, who, despite their circumstances, have strived beyond that and have done amazing things in life.”
Embrace your human agencies
“God gave you the freedom to make your own decisions and not follow a set of life, or a straight path. You can choose to spend your time watching telenovela and playing video games or you can spend it studying, improving your mind, and improving your body. But you can still have fun watching telenovela or playing video games at their own time.”
Be efficient, live in the moment
“When your studying, study, don’t have Facebook open, don’t be texting or calling, don’t be watching TV, just study and be present. When you’re in class don’t talk to your seatmate unless it’s related to class discussions. Focus on what your teacher is saying. When you’re having fun, have fun. Don’t let stress or school distract you. When you’re with family, spend every moment with them.”
Never give up
“You are going to get hit so many times, that’s just the way life works, especially for people who are less privileged than most. If you want to reach a dream, a goal, you have to keep your mind on it, because I believe that if you give up early on maybe you don’t deserve that dream anyway. That’s what differentiates a person who’s been successful from just an ordinary person who’s still struggling. Like Winston Churchill said: ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ Unless you wanna stay in hell.”