As parents, we only think of the best for our children. Even as small kids, we plan for their future by enriching them with values, enrolling them in the best schools, and mentoring them with proper judgment and wisdom. We hope that they may grow as upright individuals pursuing their own advocacies and reaching their goals.
I am sure that it is a proud moment for parents whenever their children are recognized for being exemplary students. Last week, the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Foundation recognized the top 10 students of the country from different colleges and universities.
After a rigorous screening process with hundreds of nominees from 350 schools, the top 30 students have been identified to join the national judging. And together with Department of Science and Technology Secretary Boy de la Pena, my dad and TOSP Founder Jose Concepcion Jr., TOSP President Marie Concepcion-Young, TOSP Head of the Board of Judges Dr. Ryan Guinaran, and program partners Michael Tan and Alice Eduardo, we awarded the 10 brightest students of the Philippines in Malacanang.
I shared to the students, “You have a bright future. Only ten will be chosen but nevertheless among the millions of students out there, you are part of the brightest students of the country. But in the end, with all of these, it’s all up to you. Many of you will be part of the government one day. Maybe one of you will be a president someday. Nothing is impossible. It all starts with a dream. You cannot wait for destiny. You will have to work hard for that. And if it’s meant to be, it will happen.”
Sec. Boy de la Pena who has been part of the TOSP community for the past years as screening committee and national judge appreciated the efforts of these 10 students who excelled not only in their academics but also in their non-curricular activities and programs. He reminded them of their responsibility as a proactive citizen. In an inspiring message, he mentioned, “The recognitions serve as a reminder to the youth of today that learning is as much as a right of every young Filipino as much as it is a responsibility for those who have received it not only to oneself or the family but also to our nation.”
But among the 10 outstanding students, I have known two young and inspiring students who are both pursuing peace advocacies.
First is Nafieza “Happy” Mohammad who hails from Zamboanga City and a graduate of Universidad de Zamboanga. She has been a consistent outstanding student in her university and even graduated as the UZ Most Outstanding Student 2016. But aside from focusing on her course Pharmacy, she has pursued campaigns for peace and environmental conservation and protection, and for the fight against violence on women and children. She also opened the program “Runway Walk for Peace” during the Philippine Fashion Week. She is the first Muslim woman wearing Hijab on the runway.
Last June 2016, she spearheaded Project Aral mission in Basilan Province. They gave out notebooks, ball pens, pencils, and refillable water bottles to a Muslim school. She continues these peace activities to help the children of Basilan and other Muslim provinces achieve peace and prosperity.
Another empowered youth is Arizza Nocum who is a graduate of Industrial Engineering in University of the Philippines – Diliman. She graduated Magna cum Laude and one of the UP Oblation scholar of their university. She is also one of the four industrial engineering students who represented UP Diliman in the Industrial Engineering Competition in Indonesia, and won the competition. Aside from that, she has been recognized for projects and research, public speaking, and leadership among others.
But more importantly, Arizza is one of the young generation who is creating changes in her best capacity. She has founded Good Karma Shirts which sells shirts of different colors to raise funds for non-profit organizations in the country. Each color of the shirts supports different causes such as poor and ailing children, reforestation, marine conservation, underprivileged scholars, and the support for clean sources of light. Through Good Karma, they are also encouraging the customers to support and volunteer in the different organizations.
She is also the Overall Head of KRIS Library, an organization which promotes peace through education. This organization builds libraries, provides scholarships, and donates books to areas affected by conflict and poverty. They have built six libraries, have provided 400 scholarship grants, and have distributed 50,000 books to public schools and communities. Through KRIS Library, she has created a center of peace and unity for both Christians and Muslims.
They will be involved in the Sulu project that we our doing and in other areas.
I am inspired by these two young students who despite their young age, have started creating developments in their communities. They are the instruments of change that we need in this country. May they inspire more young members of the society to contribute to the brighter future ahead of us.