Does being an honor student translate to success later on in life? What are those hard-earned medals, certificates, and citations worth after graduation?
In this three-part series, we asked honor students about the qualities that made them excel in school and the path that they’ve taken after college.
Kimberly Lee, 21, is a financial analyst working for one year now. She took up BS Business Administration, Major in Financial Management at the University of Santo Tomas and graduated Cum Laude. She also made it to the Top 6 Finance Students of the Philippines.
Here’s what she has to say about life before and after graduation.
What motivated you to be an honor student?
It was primarily to maintain my academic scholarship in order to help my widowed mom with our finances, and ultimately land my dream job after graduation.
Have you always been an achiever?
My mom instilled discipline in me early on. She taught me the value of being outstanding in all aspects. Since pre-school, I’ve been used to being on top and in the limelight, be it academics or extra-curricular. I’m a very competitive person but I see to it that I only compete with myself and my past milestones, for me to be a better version of myself every day.
What was your typical day in school like?
My class would start at 12 nn but I’d make sure to wake up at 5 in the morning. I’d grab my breakfast, start studying, attend class, and go to my organization to practice my servant leadership afterwards.
Any odd routines?
I talk to myself in the mirror when I’m alone, with full positivity and belief, that I can surpass all challenges I face. Successful people that I look up to do this, and it works.
What were your extracurricular activities in school? How did they affect your grades?
I’d always join quiz bees, dance competitions, and outreach programs in our organization. It was indeed tough juggling everything. I had less sleep and less quality time with my friends. I did feel the pressure, out of fear that I’d fail at some point, but all my extra-curricular activities, I must say, had added spice to my life, and molded me into a well-rounded individual.
How were you able to hit above average grades consistently?
I’d say advanced reading hugely helps, but I myself struggle from this, because most of the time, I cram when studying. Best way is to reassess yourself if the former or the latter works better for you.
What are your other achievements in college?
A noteworthy achievement was when I qualified and became a titleholder for the top 10 outstanding Finance students nationwide. Despite the rigorous schedule I had while I was a graduating student, I must say that this is a testament that you are able to do all things no matter how difficult they are if you want it bad enough, as long as you have the discipline and commitment to get to your goals.
Was it easier for you to get a job by graduating with honors?
I took a quick vacation abroad for some self-reflection and exposure, then had my first job shortly after. I’d say that graduating with honors helped somehow, but for me it’s also not that easy since the competition is really getting more and more stiff nowadays.
In terms of the real-world perks, there could be higher likelihood of competitive compensation and training package, but it’s still not a guarantee. After all, your negotiation skills always make the difference.
What are some habits/lessons/routines you’ve done or learned in school that you are still following now?
Coachability and discipline. Wherever you go, there’s always someone who’s going to be better than you in one way or another. This is one of the things I’m most thankful about-that there are people who I could always learn from.
Aside from that: the discipline to get to my goals without distractions. When I’m really into something, I’d really zone out and focus on it. I’ve found it very helpful.
How do you think school prepared you for the real world?
Willingness to take risks and accept failures would be the two most important things school has made me value. No matter how organized I was, there will always be things that are out of my control. But if it weren’t for these uncontrollable factors, I wouldn’t have been flexible and adaptable to changes as I am today.
On the flipside, what did you not learn from school?
The school system rewarded people who followed the rules and the system. However, this somehow encourages complacency and reliance on the things that have been built already.
This is where the school system somewhat fails- to teach students to get out of their comfort zone. Thinking out of the box is still important–building rapport, establishing connections, and most important, having the business mindset.
What are your biggest achievements so far?
Following where my heart takes me without any fear of inhibitions or external validation is my biggest achievement so far. Just me–happy, blessed, and contented. Most of all, I feel blissful that I can share and inspire people through my story to becoming a success and living testimony through my blog.
What are your short-term goals?
To take full ownership of my own business. The steps I’ve done so far was to work hand in hand with my business mentor and be coachable; for me to evaluate and develop my thought process and get results faster.
Are there things you wish you hadn’t done, or could’ve done better in school? What advice would you have given your younger self?
None. As I look back, school was filled with happy and sad memories, all able to make me the stronger person I am today. I believe everything that happened to me was necessary to build the “Kim Lee” people know of today.