Filipino writers Leah Cioco, Zanti Gayares named finalists for Global Student Prize

 Leah Cioco Global Student Prize
Leah Angela Cioco from the University of the Philippines (UP) and Zanti Gayares from the Holy Child Catholic School (HCCS) in Manila are among this year’s Top 50 finalists for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize. Photos from the Global Student Prize website.

Filipino writers Leah Angela Cioco from the University of the Philippines (UP) and Zanti Gayares from the Holy Child Catholic School (HCCS) in Manila have been shortlisted for this year’s Chegg.org Global Student Prize, which carries a cash prize of US$100,000.

The students earned finalist spots in the Top 50 of the Global Student Prize, an award that honors an exceptional student making a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers, and society.

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Cioco and Gayares from the Philippines were chosen from among 7,000 nominations and applications from 150 countries received by the global awards body.

Now in its second year, the award was launched as a new sister award to the Global Teacher Prize of the Varkey Foundation which seeks to recognize the efforts of exceptional teachers around the globe.

Here are the Filipino finalists of the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022:

Leah Cioco
University of the Philippines

Leah Angela Cioco currently studies Applied Math at the University of the Philippines. She is an entrepreneur and published writer who dreams of redefining the Philippines’ education system for the next generation of Filipino students, according to the Global Student Prize website.

Cioco co-founded The Independent Collective (IndieCo), a media production start-up that pushes boundaries through socially engaged conversations. She said she aims to create a safe space for young thought leaders, innovators, and the youth through the start-up which aims to keep the next generation of independent leaders and thinkers informed about news they care about.

IndieCo’s ‘Young Blood Writers’ Program’ helped high school students get published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the New York Times, and other news publications and academic journals.

After training with the Philippine Math Team and winning multiple awards, Cioco worked with the Purple Sage Project, formerly the University of the Philippines (UP) Cats to provide affordable tutorial services for grades 9-12 students and has helped students from different regions in the country to gain admission to UP with full-ride tuition scholarships.

The awards website said Cioco gained admission to Harvard University’s highly competitive pre-college program on Creative Writing, which inspired her to write her first novel published by Scarlett Leaf Publishing in 2020. She is now working on her second novel, which she is submitting for the LitUp Fellowship of Reese’s Book Club, a fellowship for unpublished underrepresented women writers.

Zanti Gayares
Holy Child Catholic School

Zanti Gayares is a writer, journalist, scientist, and activist at the Holy Child Catholic School in Manila. He has won numerous journalism prizes and awards at both regional and national levels, carries out advanced scientific research, is a passionate advocate for science, press freedom, climate action, and LGTBQ+ rights.

The student journalist uses his platform to “tell the stories of marginalized or oppressed sections of society such as indigenous people, give voice their struggles, and bridge gaps between disparate groups.”

Gayares was cited for pushing for environmental action and promoting the importance of science literacy to counter pandemic misinformation during his term as the Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper. He is an an opinion writer and columnist for Explained PH, a youth-driven publication where he writes about social justice in the education and science sectors. He is also the National Secretariat of the Science and Technology Editors Guild of the Philippines (SENTINEL).

Gayares’ paper about bioplastics and their significance as a biotechnological solution won a silver medal in the 1st Manila Intellectual Property Innovation and Business Incubation Expo 2021.

He has also worked on projects such as VaccSENSE: Taps for Jabs, an application to boost the vaccination campaign and lessen vaccine hesitancy which won 2nd place in the Pitch Competition of Kapnayan 2022 hosted by the University of the Philippines, and the HiFACT Project which analyses smoking habits among Filipinos and advocates for vape pens.

“Zanti is a tireless activist across various causes and cares deeply about sparking positive change in society. In 10th grade, he became a representative of the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Arts of Manila (DTCAM) and then later joined democratic organizations such as Kabataan Partylist – focusing on the role of the youth in policy advocacy and campaigns – and joined Youth for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) in which he amplified the calls for environmental action and climate awareness,”

“He is also Education and Research Head of Rise for Education Alliance and moderates sessions on LGBTQ topics for the organization. Zanti has also acted as a delegate in the Asia Youth Model United Nations and represented Vietnam for UNESCO,” Gayares’ profile in the Global Student Prize website reads.

The Top 50 shortlist of the Global Student Prize will be narrowed down to 10 finalists and are expected to be announced in late August this year.

The overall winner of the $100,000 cash prize will be chosen by members of the prominent Global Student Prize Academy of esteemed experts and individuals from around the world.

Last year, two Filipino public school teachers and a student journalist were shortlisted for the Global Teacher and Student Prize.

Filipino students are making the nation proud by winning awards and medals in recent science Olympiads, such as the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in Switzerland and the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) hosted in China.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the Filipino students Leah Angela Cioco from the University of the Philippines (UP) and Zanti Gayares from the Holy Child Catholic School (HCCS) in Manila for being shortlisted for this year’s Chegg.org Global Student Prize.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.