board exam results

How SLU student conquered to top the medical technologist exam

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How SLU student conquered to top the medical technologist exam

Photos courtesy of Sam Jeffrey Tiongco

‘I really wanted to deliver for our institution. I wanted to give the best results that I can,’ says Sam Jeffrey Tiongco, who topped the August 2023 Medical Technologists licensure exam

CAVITE, Philippines – Sam Jeffrey Tiongco, 22, dreamed of becoming a medical technologist and a doctor, but the journey towards this dream has been a challenge. 

He was having a typical day at Saint Louis University (SLU) when his friend showed him the August 2023 Medical Technologists Licensure Examination results. 

That time akala ko inedit niya, kasi ‘yun ‘yung trip ng mga kaibigan ko (At that time I thought it was edited by my friend to prank me),” he said.

“So when he showed me that it was actually the PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) board, I was really shocked, I dropped my pen and then I cried [out] of joy, ” Tiongco added in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Tiongco scored 93.30%, placing first among 3,982 passers out of 5,401 examinees. His alma mater Saint Louis University also ranked first among schools with students taking the exam nationwide.

While everyone saw Tiongco fulfill one of his dreams, only few knew how physically and emotionally draining his preparation was towards this result.

“I pressured myself into delivering the best results thinking I could ignore the physical hardship because I was used to sleepless nights anyway, but it wasn’t the case,” said Tiongco in his Facebook post.

Life as a student in SLU

Tiongco moved to Baguio City, where he studied senior high school at SLU Basic Education School. He later enrolled at SLU for his undergraduate degree in medical technology. 

“When I was in high school, I fell in love with blood bank, especially blood typing, so I intended to pursue medical technology,” Tiongco shared.

He was an active student leader in SLU. When asked how he managed his time, he said, “Very difficult siya. Actually nung high school hanggang 2nd year college, BS major in org (organizations) talaga ako, hindi ako BS major in medical technology.

(It was very difficult. From high school until 2nd year college, I was actually a BS major in organizations, not a BS major in medical technology.)

He served as student council executive president when he was in Grade 12. In college, he served as a secretary, secretariat head, and academic committee head at SLU KASAMA

Despite this, Tiongco, just like every other student, struggled in school. “First year pa lang mahirap na talaga yung subjects, i-te-train ka na talaga nila. Ang hirap ng mga quizzes namin, super (The subjects are already difficult in my first year because the university is training us. The quizzes were super difficult.),” he said. 

He also admitted that he barely passed the university’s comprehensive exam. “Sobrang hirap niya to the point na meron din akong line of seven [na grade] (It was very hard, to the point that I received a grade with a line of seven)

Such events would have discouraged other students, but Tiongco did not let it get through him.

Honestly hindi masama ‘yung feeling ko, at the very least pasado ako. Hindi ko na kailangan ulitin ‘yung process kasi grueling ‘yung process tapos uuliit ka nanaman (Honestly, I did not feel bad, at the very least I passed. I don’t need to repeat the process because the process is grueling for me to only do it once more),” he said. 

The setbacks

Studying for the board exam was not child’s play for Tiongco. He even had few people around him doubting him. 

Very contradictory ‘to doon sa [Facebook] post ko, sinabi ko roon na walang nagdoubt sa akin pero meron at meron talaga (It’s very contradictory to my [Facebook] post, I said that no one doubted me but there actually were.), ” he said. 

Tiongco admitted experiencing several breakdowns before the board exam. “One month before the board naka-apat or limang breakdowns yata ako. Sinabi ko na hindi ko kaya [pumasa], baka bagsak ako. (A month before the board exam, I think I had four or five breakdowns. I said I can’t pass, I might fail.)”

Tiongco originally intended to take the board exam in March 2023. “Unfortunately, ‘yung TOR namin late na na-release (Unfortunately, my transcript of records was released late),” he said.

Medyo masakit sa feeling, kasi I had plans for the entire year. Sabi ko nga after ng March magtuturo ako sa mga schools tapos magpapaopera pa ako ng mata ko kasi yung grado ko sobrang taas na,” he said. 

(It was a bit painful, because I had plans for the entire year. I planned to teach after March and then I planned to undergo surgery to fix my blurry eyesight.)

But these setbacks did not stop Tiongco from achieving his dream. He started reviewing again from April to August.

During those times sila [family] ‘yung nagbubuhat sa akin, pagkain [and] everything para makapag-focus ako sa review ko (During those times they supported me, they gave me everything so that I can focus on my review.),” he said. 

Na-postpone ‘yung plan ko pero kailangan tanggapin kasi ‘yun talaga eh, pero at least nagpayoff ‘yung mga desisyon ko,” Tiongco said.

(My plan was postponed but I have to accept it because that’s how it is. At least my decisions paid off.)

Aside from his family, his motivation to make his alma mater proud kept him going throughout the review process.

“I really wanted to deliver for our institution. I wanted to give the best results that I can,” he said.

And delivered he did. Tiongco is currently a first year medical student at SLU and is on his way to give back to the people who believed in him. – Allysa Areglo/

Allysa Areglo is a Cavite State University student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a digital communications intern at Rappler.

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