This student persevered despite loss of parents to COVID to graduate summa cum laude

Rey Matthew James Volante summa cum laude
Bachelor of Science in Biology student Rey Matthew James Volante delivers his moving valedictory speech at FEU’s graduation ceremony. Photos from Matthew Volante, FEU Advocate FB.

Filipino scholar Rey Matthew James Volante persevered to graduate summa cum laude with a degree in biology from Far Eastern University (FEU) despite losing his parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Volante was also chosen as the recipient of The Outstanding Senior Student Award of the university after receiving the highest Latin distinction and studying with scholarship grants from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and FEU.

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The summa cum laude college graduate recently delivered a tear-jerking valedictory speech where he described experiencing grief and loss, overcoming several hardships and obstacles, and finally choosing to move forward.

The batch valedictorian who grew up in a poor family dedicated his success to his parents, who both passed away in the last two years of the pandemic.

“Just when I thought everything was (going) according to my plans, things started to fall apart. The Covid-19 pandemic happened and just roughly two years ago, it killed me twice. The first time was when my twin brother had fallen victim to a broken justice system. He was unfairly detained for a crime he was in no position to commit,” Matthew Volante said in his valedictorian speech on June 30, 2022. “The second time was when both of my parents died during the pandemic.”

The Bachelor of Science in Biology student said his mother passed away due to Covid-19, while his twin brother was “unfairly detained” and fell victim to the “broken justice system” in the country. His father had a heart attack and also passed away shortly after.

“These were the darkest moments of my life and ironically, these were also the moments where I shined the brightest. Because instead of allowing my tragic circumstances to shatter my faith and resolve to continue living, I chose to turn my pain into power,” Volante continued.

The young Pinoy achiever thanked his benefactors and mentors at the university who helped him complete his studies and encouraged his fellow graduates to stand up for what is right and make a difference in the world.

“I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for the generosity and support of the people who have helped me get here. So as we seek opportunities, it is now our shared responsibility to create opportunities for the less privileged, to give them a shot to fulfill their dreams and live the life they deserve to be living,” he said.

READ MORE inspiring stories about Filipinos overcoming adversity to graduate from school, like Xyza Cruz Bacani, a domestic helper turned famed photographer who graduated from New York University, and Joshua Mahilum, the son of a sidewalk vendor and tricycle driver in Bacolod City who graduated from the University of St. La Salle (USLS) with a degree in chemical engineering.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Filipino scholar Rey Matthew James Volante for graduating summa cum laude with a degree in biology from Far Eastern University (FEU) and WATCH him share his story in his valedictorian speech here!

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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.