Two Outstanding Filipinas Graduate Summa Cum Laude From Wharton and NYU

One of them graduated with three majors.

On May 18, a Filipina named Janelle Micaela Panganiban graduated summa cum laude from New York University, earning three majors: global public health, public policy, sociology (honors), reports ABS-CBN News.

According to the report, she also received the Founders' Day Award for Excellence in sociology, an award given to top-ranking baccalaureate graduates. 

The daughter of ANAC-IP Partylist Representative Jose Panganiban Jr. and Angadanan Mayor Lourdes Panganiban of Isabela's Gaddang Indigenous People said that it was only in college where she experienced "the sense of wonder and curiosity," adding, "at NYU, they were able to provide that." 

According to Janelle's LinkedIn profile, in 2014, she graduated with honors (in the top five percent of the graduating class) from Immaculate Conception Academy in Greenhills, San Juan City. She also wrote on her profile that as a part of an overseas studies program, she spent one semester in London and another semester in Washington, D.C. Her bio reads, "Paralegal Intern at Federal Defenders of New York."


Her next step, she said in the report, is to come back to the Philippines to serve her country: "The idea that there are so many Filipinos who are not at home, I felt I had to contribute something and that’s what kind of tied me to the Philippines, in a way [that] I really don’t want to forget [the] idealism of wanting to do something for the country."

This is definitely another great feat for our country. Just last week, Filipina Lara Montales graduated summa cum laude from University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Twenty-one-year-old Lara Andrea Montales is no stranger to making the news. During her days as a grade school at Colegio de San Agustin, from where she graduated as valedictorian, Montales joined various math Olympiads around the world. Her distinctions at the 2008 China Primary Math Olympiad, the 2009 Wizards at Mathematics International Competition in India, and the 2012 Australian Science Innovations contest all earned praise from local news outlets. Montales, however, is far from slowing down. 


After graduating high school with honors at the Philippine Science High School (Main), Montales entered Wharton in 2014, under a bachelor’s program in Finance and Business Analytics. Graduating summa cum laude meant that Montales fulfilled the necessary requirement of attaining a cumulative GPA of 3.80 to 4.00.

During her four years at UPenn, Montales diligently juggled her academics with extracurricular activities. Last year, she interned at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, Manila Bulletin reports. She was also an active member of the Penn Philippine Association (PPA), of which she was executive vice president of in her senior year, and has participated in their annual Barrio culture show.

In a video released by the PPA, Montales said of her experience at UPenn: “I really learned a lot, while I was here.” She continued, “It wasn’t all good times but I really treasure all the memories that I made.”  

A bright future awaits this young Filipina, as after she vacations here, she flies back to the U.S. and will start working at a consulting firm in Chicago.


Among other notable UPenn honor students from the undergraduate program are Century Pacific Group’s executive chairman Chris Po (summa cum laude with dual degrees in Economics and applied science), Cebu Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei (summa cum laude with dual degrees in finance and applied sciences), and Century Properties co-chief operating officer and managing director Marco Antonio (summa cum laude, double major in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management).

Congratulations, Janelle and Lara!

*Part of this story originally appeared on
*Edits have been made by the editors

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Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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