SWU PHINMA: 5 topnotchers, 1st quarter of 2022

·6 min read

By Kaila Jewels Tashvana Cajelo and Alessandra Cular

SOUTHWESTERN University PHINMA continues to live up to its tagline, "Becoming the best that you can be," as it produced five topnotchers from various board exams in January and March 2022.

SWU PHINMA’s reputation as the first medical school outside Manila and a leader in health science education in the Visayas and Mindanao was catapulted even higher given the recent notable accomplishments.

The five topnotchers come from different departments: two from Medical Technology, two from Dentistry, and one from Medicine.


Dr. Bryan Gonzaga, 27, Top 9 in the March 2022 Physician Licensure Examination, expressed that incorporating good study habits, such as following through with a schedule diligently and creating a daily routine that focuses on analysis and recall, has been pivotal in excelling in medical school. These were the same practices he held on to even in college from the same university, which also helped in making him land in the top 10 of the 2016 Medical Technology Licensure Exam.

Though Gonzaga sees himself as a quiet and balanced type of student, he is confident with his leadership skills often relied on by his fellow colleagues during group work.

While preparing for the board exams, Gonzaga shared his reliance on his handouts and his study habits to guide him throughout his review.

Despite the immense pressure of preparing for the exams, he stressed the importance of allowing oneself to have breaks in between.

"I was able to catch up by double-time and made an extra effort so I can finish the actual schedule that I made," he said.

As Gonzaga continued his preparation, Typhoon Odette almost scuttled his initial plans. Loss of power and physical damage to his dwelling pushed back his study schedule for three weeks. But his extensive support system helped him push on. Gonzaga emphasized the importance of family and focus, and the dream to motivate and continue on regardless of the roadblocks that will come along.

"I know most of the youth right now want to enjoy and have fun but know your priorities. Student life is the time for sowing, and you will never know just as time is fleeting it is time for you to reap."


Elaine Dagondon and Dianne Avenido, both from the College of Medical Technology, share a reserved but driven disposition.

Dagandon, who placed third in the January 2022 Medical Technology Licensure Exam, told SunStar Cebu that she was just a regular student and like the rest, she was weary of class reports and long exams. But what sets Dagondon apart is her dedication to aim high: "Someone told me to aim high, so I did. How would I know I can if I don't try? So, I told myself: 'No more procrastinating and cramming this time.' I wrote down important notes, took practice questions and tests, and rested whenever I could."

Dagondon also shared her struggles in preparing for the board exams last December 2021, amid the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, claiming that she had to reset her plans for studying after being affected by the ravages of the super typhoon.

Active involvement in her university's student organization was Dagondon's way of savoring her collegiate experience at SWU PHINMA. She stressed the need for balance between studies and having other equally enjoyable pursuits to occupy oneself; either it's hanging out with friends or being involved in school activities.

Avenido, second placer in the March 2022 Medical Technology Licensure Exam, admitted that she hates being stressed out. So as much as she can, she does not pressure herself to get high grades. As long as she knows she's done her best, passing the subject is enough for her.

"I study and I don't forget to rest as well. Resting helps me refresh my brain. I always thought my four years in college would be such a waste if I don't recall the topics we discussed and the content we have covered. So as much as I can, I take in knowledge for long-term purposes and not just for that one exam," she emphasized the importance of studying at one's pace.

Avenido also ascribed her success to her faith in God. She advised the future board exam takers: "Trust in the process and believe in God's perfect time for His great blessings to unfold in your life."


Meanwhile, Dr. Jed Codilla and Dr. Ralph Ganzo, both from the College of Dentistry, share the same goal and drive of excelling in their studies.

Codilla, ranked 8th, described himself as an average student who gave his best in everything that he does. He is a firm believer in determination and the will to never give up is what pushes him to move forward.

Upon preparing for the board exams, he dedicated most of his time reviewing his past notes in college and enrolled in a review center.

With the postponement of the exams, he used this time to prepare himself mentally and emotionally.

Codilla focused on allowing himself to go at his own pace without letting any pressure get the best of him. He advised fellow board exam takers to keep moving forward.

"As what Billie Cox once said, 'life's greatest difficulties always happen right before life's greatest breakthroughs.'"

Ganzo, who placed Top 3, viewed himself as a studious student who would immediately get things done. He believed this was because of his love for learning and his chosen profession.

While reviewers are helpful in preparation for the board exams, he emphasized the importance of reading books, notes and reviewers and how these benefit the reader in the long run.

"Despite this, I made sure that I was still enjoying the process. I did not pressure myself, I just did my best," he said.

One of the prevailing challenges experienced by both students was the constant postponement of the board exams and how it placed them in a state of confusion. It got to the point that they forgot some of the information they studied previously.

Ganzo stressed that despite the pandemic, you must move forward and keep fighting to realize your dreams.

"God is working behind the scenes, He is still in control despite the pandemic, always and in all ways."

SWU PHINMA has stayed true to its mission of producing outstanding health professionals for over 75 years. The institution's drive of pushing the students to become their best is reflected in the performance and skills these students have shown through and through.

Despite the challenges that might come, it is always ready to give it all as an academic institution with high standards.

To know more about the institution, contact them at https://swu.phinma.edu.ph/or through their social media account @swuphinma. Enrollment for the school year 2022-2023 is ongoing. (Sponsored Content)

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