Student completes 2 degrees from 2 universities, both with honors


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MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman recently went viral for producing 54 summa cum laude graduates. It is the first time in history that the university had this many students receiving the highest honors bestowed to any graduate.

One of those who graduated summa cum laude from the university went viral because he had also completed another degree in the past as magna cum laude!
Student completes 2 degrees from 2 universities, both with honors

Student completes 2 degrees from 2 universities, both with honors
Photo credit: TJ Simeon / Inquirer

Timothy Jason “TJ” Simeon recently completed his Civil Engineering degree as summa cum laude from UP Diliman, but this brilliant young man had also graduated as magna cum laude in Management Engineering from Ateneo de Manila University.

A brilliant young mind

Even as a kid, Simeon excelled in Math. Since he also loved to draw, he dreamed of becoming an architect.

“During my elementary and high school days in Xavier School, I found myself excelling in math, particularly calculus. I remember my math teacher telling me I have potential after getting perfect in a calculus exam. That planted the idea to take a degree that involved a lot of computation,” Simeon revealed.

Graduating as valedictorian of Xavier School opened a lot of doors for Simeon. He passed the UP College Admission Test and was also accepted in the Ateneo Junior Summer Seminar program where the best students from high schools across the Philippines are given a chance to take college-level courses.

Student completes 2 degrees from 2 universities, both with honors
Photo credit: TJ Simeon / Inquirer

Simeon was offered a full scholarship grant at Ateneo for graduating valedictorian at Xavier School. At the end of the summer program, he also gained automatic admission to the university. While he still wanted to study at UP, he eventually chose Ateneo.

“Xavier and Ateneo are both Jesuit schools so it was an easy adjustment from high school to college, especially in terms of culture and values. I actually found the college schedule relaxed compared to the 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily schedule of high school,” Simeon explained.

He was involved in many extra-curricular activities and would graduate as magna cum laude.

Student completes 2 degrees from 2 universities, both with honors
Photo credit: TJ Simeon / Inquirer

He would spend the next 5 years working, but his father urged him to go back to school to earn a second degree.

“My dad, as an engineer, sparked the idea of taking Civil Engineering as a second degree, given how the construction industry is growing in the country,” Simeon shared.

“UP immediately came to mind because it was one of my what if’s back in Ateneo. I’ve always wondered how different my college life would be if I had chosen UP over Ateneo. And as the country’s premier state university, UP was the instant choice.”

Somewhat pressured to do his best since he’s a second-courser who finished with honors, Simeon aimed to also complete his Civil Engineering degree as magna cum laude.

“One of the biggest challenges entering as a second degree was that I didn’t have a college block or friends from high school. During my first semester, I found myself eating alone during breaks and studying alone in the library,” he recalled.

But he easily overcame those challenges. He made friends and would soon find himself excelling once again in this new field of study. Instead of graduating magna cum laude like he aimed for, he surpassed that goal to complete the course with summa cum laude honors!

“Time management is key and knowing when to take breaks is important. The number one enemy in any course work is cramming. I avoid studying the night before an exam or starting projects close to the deadline. I study as early as one week before an exam and do projects as early as I can,” he advised.

Simeon also told students to relax once in a while.

“Taking breaks to pamper yourself is also important. I turn to my mobile games to relax myself, especially when I’m overwhelmed with a lot of stress and pressure from the deadlines,” he added.

Take it from the expert who completed two degrees with flying colors…

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express


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