Not your usual grad: UPLB grants posthumous degree to exceptional student

As a student, Alyssa Asilo did not let a rare disease stop her from finishing her studies. Now, her school did not let death stop them from confirming her degree.

The University of the Philippines Los Banos on Saturday awarded a posthumous Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree to Asilo, who had succumbed to leukemia April 6.

As about 1,700 students received their diplomas, Asilo's parents went up the stage to receive the fruit of their daughter's labor.

Related story: How a graduation photo inspired thousands

Having taken a leave of absence for a year due to the rare type of cancer, Asilo decided to re-enroll in UPLB's College of Veterinary Medicine in June 2012.

Asilo died after finishing all her academic requirements, which included internships and a thesis. She was 23.

Proof of Asilo's dedication to her studies was how her work on the water buffalo was hailed as the best thesis in her batch.

It was the first time the UPLB College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed a degree posthumously, the dean's staff told Yahoo! Southeast Asia by phone.

Also read: Blind student graduates magna cum laude

During the graduation rites she missed, keynote speaker Felipe Gozon, chief executive of TV giant GMA Network, lauded Asilo's passion for education.

This, as he urged other graduates to "dream big", having graduated from an "institution that cultivates dreams."

Praise also poured into Asilo's Facebook wall after her death and until her graduation.

"Ally, you are truly an inspiration!" Mariel Flores, a veterinarian at Ocean Adventure Park in Subic, said.

"[Y]ou have taught me more than I have taught you during your internship with us," she said further.

"When you came back once more for the medical mission, I was amazed at your zeal... your strength... your influence! Hindi kita malilimutan!" Flores added.

Jean Balquin, who also works at Ocean Adventure, only had good words for Asilo as well.

She posted on Facebook: "Alyssa is one of the interns that's dear to us... I admire her for her strength..."

Related slideshow: Sunflowers bloom for UP Diliman grads

The University of the Philippines' famed sunflowers are in full bloom at the University Avenue April 26, 2013, in time for the state-run school's commencement exercises. Sunflowers with life spans of ... more 
The University of the Philippines' famed sunflowers are in full bloom at the University Avenue April 26, 2013, in time for the state-run school's commencement exercises. Sunflowers with life spans of 45 to 60 days are planted annually to mark graduation season in UP Diliman. (George Calvelo/NPPA Images) less 
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