Education is the key to unlocking a brighter future, and recognizing exceptional students who embody academic excellence and leadership skills are essential in motivating and inspiring others. On June 15, 2023, the culmination of the prestigious “Most Outstanding High School Graduate” event, organized by JCI Davao, took place at Abreeza Ayala Malls. After three months of rigorous activities and with 27 nominees from various schools, Mary Grace Espino from the Philippine Science High School – Southern Mindanao Campus (PSHS-SMC) emerged as the Grand Winner.
The journey to becoming the most outstanding high school graduate in Davao was a rigorous and challenging one. Over the course of three months, the nominees participated in a series of activities that pushed their limits to become better servant leaders for their community. The activities included an overnight bootcamp at the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) led by JCI Assoc Member Karl Aoanan, founder of Youth Leadership Program and owner of PIC Leadership, along with his very hardworking team from the YLP, Mangrove Planting and Cleanup Drive at Cleanergy Park through the Pawicamp Program with the Aboitiz Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 11, Mental Health Advocacy Seminar with UIC Department of Psychology, and ending with their community project presentation in front of esteemed judges held in Davao Christian High School.
The Top 10
It was a sight to behold as family, friends, classmates and faculty of each nominee’s schools was in full support with their cheers and chants as each nominee was called on stage for their video introductions. After 26 inspiring videos, the top 10 was named and even louder cheers filled the events center as one-by-one, each nominee was called, and their photos revealed on screen. In the top 10 are:
- Richard Nash Mercadal (Holy Cross College of Calinan)
- Sophia Dannielle A. Gacutan – Good Soil Academy Inc.
- Jannica Anne C. Blas – Davao Christian High School
- Mark Joseph A. Junio – The University Of Mindanao – Main
- Luigi T. Felicia – Mapúa Malayan Colleges Mindanao
- Mary Grace U. Espino – Philippine Science High School – Southern Mindanao Campus
- Hyacinth Louise R. Duldulao – Lyceum Of The Philippines – Davao
- Janyl Bianica P. Joaquin – Precious International School Of Davao
- Jay Ar B. Omblero – Brokenshire College, Inc. Toril
- Sheldon Jae T. Tiu – Davao Chong Hua High School
After the top 10 nominees was announced, it was time to reach the penultimate stage of the competition. This phase aimed to evaluate their leadership capabilities and gauge their understanding of the key attributes necessary for success. Each nominee was paired with a knowledgeable judge who would put their leadership acumen to the test. The question on everyone’s minds was, “What does it truly take to become a servant leader?”
Two Minutes to Shine:
As the spotlight shifted to each nominee, they were given a mere two minutes to eloquently articulate their thoughts on leadership. This time constraint intensified the pressure, as they needed to condense their ideas and leave a lasting impression on the judges. The nominees drew upon their personal experiences, knowledge, and insights to craft responses that showcased their unique perspectives on leadership and its core qualities.
The Top 5 Revealed:
After careful evaluation and consideration, the judges unveiled the names of the top 5 contenders who excelled in the final round. These remarkable individuals demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, exhibited a profound understanding of the qualities required for success, and presented their ideas with poise and confidence. In the top 5 are:
- 4th Runner-up – Sheldon Jae T. Tiu, Davao Chong Hua High School
- 3rd Runner-up – Jannica Anne C. Blas, Davao Christian High School
- 2nd Runner-up – Luigi T. Felicia, Mapúa Malayan Colleges Mindanao
- 1st Runner-up – Hyacinth Louise R. Duldulao, Lyceum Of The Philippines – Davao
- Grand Winner – Mary Grace U. Espino, Philippine Science High School – Southern Mindanao Campus
For the nominees who secured their place in the top 5, this achievement marked a significant milestone in their journey. It validated their efforts, dedication, and commitment to leadership development. Moving forward, these exceptional individuals would continue to inspire their peers and strive for greatness, using this recognition as a catalyst for their future endeavors.
The culmination of the JCI Davao event, “The Most Outstanding High School Graduate,” was a momentous occasion that celebrated the academic excellence, leadership skills, and community involvement of exceptional students. Mary Grace Espino’s remarkable achievements, both within and beyond the classroom, made her a deserving recipient of the Grand Winner title. As we celebrate the accomplishments of all the nominees, let us continue to nurture and recognize the brilliance and potential of our future leaders.