Meet Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, 1st Summa Cum Laude to graduate from UP Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (UPMin–CommGuild) — Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, the first summa cum laude to graduate from the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin), dedicates her victory to the UPMin community.

A Food Technology major, Estudillo scored a cumulative Weighted Average Grade (CWAG) of 1.1971, the highest record in the university since its establishment in 1995.

For Estudillo, getting the highest average grade is not only one individual’s recognition. “Summa is just a bonus and summa is really not for me. It’s for UPMin,” she said.

Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, UP Mindanao’s first Summa Cum Laude graduate. Photo courtesy of UP Mindanao

“When the honor was given to me, I felt happy for UPMin. That the hope that has long been in the hearts of the alumni and the profs, that we’ll have a summa, has finally come and I was happy that I get to be the answer to their prayers,” she added.

Estudillo said she did not think of receiving the highest grade in her
courses when she got admitted to UP. For her, being in one of the most competitive state universities in the country, passing her subjects would be enough.

“When I passed UPCAT, I didn’t think of uno, I just like ‘Okay, If I pass my subjects that could be fine.’ I thought that I passed UPCAT, the hardest exam in the Philippines. So it’s okay if I don’t rank that high,” she said.

The Road to Summa

When Estudillo entered the university, she cultivated in herself a passion for learning not only in her major courses but also in the General Education (GE) courses offered in the university. For her, what she would get from the experience is more important than the numerical grade.

Not until when she was in third-year college, she realized that her disposition towards learning could not only bring her fulfillment but could also give her the chance to graduate with honors. Many told her that she had the potential to graduate as summa or magna because she earned high GWAs from the previous years.

This sparked an interest in her to achieve the title, but she did not get too fixated on the idea. Even if she would not get the highest Latin honor; she would still be thankful for she learned a lot in the university.

“Whatever came out of that process after four years, if I get the summa or not, I’m just happy that l learned a lot from here,” she added.

Science education and her worldview

When asked about how science education influenced her way of seeing life, Estudillo said that it taught her to appreciate the little things and how these make a huge impact. She related this to one’s role in society.

“So I learned that the small things make a big impact and the small decisions you make, make a big impact on other people. So I learned [that] don’t shy away if you think that you’re doing just a small task because that task may be vital. So be good at what you’re assigned to. Be good at what you’re doing. Slay it,” she said.

Her understanding of science also shaped her beliefs. She learned that life has a purpose just like how every part of an organism was designed for a specific reason and function.

“The body of insects. Studying these, studying their functions, studying their systems, I realized how difficult it is for life to just happen by an accident,” she remarked.

With her faith, she recognized that every human being has God-given abilities and path to take.

“Every situation that you are placed in, you are placed there for a reason. Therefore, my worldview rests on pursuing the view of God. Because he’s the one who created me. The one who created us and he’s the one who knows what the creation was for,” she added.

Estudillo’s advocacy

In her thesis entitled Antioxidant and Anticancer Potential of Artocarpus Fruit Wastes, Estudillo looked at the possible ways to lessen the fruit wastes generated every year by converting its peels, seeds, and cores into functional foods.

Estudillo will present her study to the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) in July. She hopes that her study will help address food wastage and health-related problems in the Philippines.

In her senior year, she was accepted as an exchange student of the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Aside from upholding academic excellence, she made sure to get involved in various civic and religious organizations both as a member and officer such as the Rotaract Club of UPMin, UPMin Koro Kantahanay, PSALM Ministry of UPMin, For the Unity and Solidarity of Every Student in UP (FUSE UP), and Let’s Do It Philippines Youth – Davao.

Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, UP Mindanao’s first Summa Cum Laude graduate, excels in academics and is also active in campus organizations. Photo courtesy of UP Mindanao

The top student reminds the Filipino youth and aspiring leaders to be courageous and persevering in achieving their dreams no matter how arduous the journey may get.

“A person is not measured by how little or how many victories he or she achieved but by the many times he or she failed, tripped over a big rock, but did not fail to rise up again, to stand up again from that. And it doesn’t matter how long you tried to stand up, the important thing is you did,” she concluded.

Estudillo, along with thirteen (13) magna cum laude and eighty (80) cum laude, will lead the three hundred fifty-two (352) candidates for graduation at the UP Mindanao’s 22nd Commencement Exercises on June 21, 7 A.M. at the University Atrium, UP Mindanao Administration Building, Mintal Davao City.

The program will also feature the Investiture Ceremony of Prof. Larry Digal, Ph.D. as the 5th Chancellor of the university. (Renz Ybañez, UPMin–CommGuild)