University of the Philippines Los Baños

Graduating from college could have been the least that people expected from this alumnus who, born to the working class, was orphaned of his father at the tender age of 10. However, exceeding expectations and even his own targets, he emerged to be his class’ valedictorian, graduating summa cum laude in BS Applied Mathematics from UPLB in 2009 with a general weighted average of 1.13.

Today, this graduate in BS Applied Mathematics helps fire up the hopes and dreams of his students through a sensitive and stimulating mentoring style as an Instructor 5 at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics (IMSP) of the UPLB College of Arts and Sciences.

Giving Back

Now on his fourth year of teaching, Jeric confessed to initial plans of giving it just one year. However, he has since been enjoying teaching and its challenges. He also sees it as a way to give back to the University, which he credits for helping mold him into the person that he is now. Most challenging to teach, he said, are service courses such as Math 11 and 17, and the most difficult to teach are those who fear math. He has adopted a creative step-by-step method of teaching, and relates lessons to practical applications and real life experiences to enable his students to appreciate the subject.

Beyond mathematical computations and formulas, he imparts the value of hard work to his class. This stemmed from his observation that some students have become complacent and want short and easy tasks. In order to cultivate the virtue of patience in them, he rewards those who exert more effort. “Binibigyan ko ng mas mataas na grade yung estudyanteng mas naghirap, mas nagsipag,” he said.

Patience

Patience is a virtue that Jeric is all too familiar with. Patience saw him through the loss of his family’s sole breadwinner. Faced with what he considers a major turning point in his life, Jeric derived strength and inspiration from his mother who did her best to manage his father’s retirement pay. His family’s situation made education both a problem and an opportunity for Jeric.

Jeric, valedictorian of his class at the San Pedro National High School in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was encouraged by his teachers to take the UPCAT. This decision was a life changer.

Jeric also received a scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology as a UPLB student. To augment his scholarship stipend, he worked part-time as a tutor in mathematics to some college students in UPLB. He was also a high school tutor at his hometown.

Focus

In his valedictory address to his fellow graduates, he stressed the value of having a goal in life. “Napagtanto ko na talagang mahalaga na magkaroon ng clear goal, hindi baling hindi mataas basta’t kayang panindigan.”

Jeric attributes his success to his focus on his studies. He studies at least a week before the exam, simply motivated by his love for studying. His passion for mathematics pushed him to work hard. “Hindi ako nahihirapan sa Math kasi nag-aaral ako. Hindi sya burden kasi nageenjoy ako sa pag-aaral.” He never dreamed of graduating summa cum laude and only wished that he would be able to maintain his scholarship and finish on time.

This love for math did not turn him into a stereotypical math geek: boring, overly intellectual, and antisocial who spends hours solving math problems, proving formulas, and finding the missing x. It did not make him different from students of his generation as Jeric also loved to play computer games like DoTA. The difference is that he only played computer games to reward himself for studying early.

Looking Ahead

Jeric is now on his fourth year of teaching. He has taken on another challenge by pursuing his Masters of Science in Mathematics in UPLB. He hopes to someday use his expertise in a corporate setting or in development work. He believes that such experience will enrich his knowledge and skills especially in the field of applied mathematics.

Unfettered by a mindset that limits lesser men within the confines of what they and society think is possible, Jeric is a fine example of how infinite the possibilities are for people who work hard to achieve their dreams.

As he said in the valedictory speech during the commencement program of UPLB in 2009, he is a living proof of the adage that poverty is not a hindrance to success.