- Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña graduated from Ateneo as the Valedictorian of Batch 2019
- She earned a degree in Management Economics, minor in Development
- What made her story super inspiring is because she grew up poor as a child of a jeepney driver
Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña, a graduate of Ateneo De Manila University, has become an inspiration for many students in the country since she grew up in poverty as a daughter of a jeepney driver.
KAMI learned that she was named as the university’s Valedictorian of Batch 2019.
She earned a degree in Management Economics, minor in Development.
In her essay published on Ateneo’s website, she opened up about growing up poor as a child of a jeepney driver.
“My father is a jeepney driver, whose example taught me to work harder than everyone else—not only because hard work is high dignity but also, while it is no guarantee of success, anything less than that for us would mean complete failure. I always worked harder than everyone else to get the same opportunities they had. It’s the least I can do to compensate for my lack of privilege. This is a reality of life I have long embraced: shouting as jeepney barker for my father to taking odd jobs in high school. I worked hard to be here…
“I was raised in poverty—there was never enough food on our table, my parents were not always regular employees, and as students, my sister and I had childhoods filled with promissory notes for delayed tuition fee payments. I was seven years old when I joined my first rally. I stood with my father at the frontline of a jeepney strike that aimed to raise the minimum fare. For some, the rising price of fuel meant less profit. For my family, it meant skipping another meal; it meant more debt and more promissory notes,” she wrote.
Aside from being a valedictorian, Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña was also the President of the University Student Council in Ateneo; she was given the Most Outstanding Student Group for Leadership and Service award and the St. Ignatius Award for Most Outstanding Scholar; she was also named as the Most Outstanding Individual for Leadership and Service and the 2018 Most Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines.
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