Summa cum laude grad from Fordham honors family ‘who gave up everything’

PGrad 2019 with Consul General Claro Cristobal, New York Power Authority  President and CEO Gil Quiniones, and speakers. Photo: Philippine Consulate

One of about 30 graduates who marched down Kalayaan Hall on June 8 during the 7th Philippine Graduation ceremony (PGrad) was Jonathan Coronel, who was awarded summa cum laude by Fordham University.

Coronel, who graduated with a degree in Global Finance and Business Economics, shared before fellow graduates his struggles as a transfer student from Ateneo de Manila University coming to Fordham. “For all the times when you feel like you don’t belong here, remind yourself of this day when you emerged victorious. It’s only going to get tougher from here but I look forward to seeing all of you again and share new chapters of our stories of survival,” he said in his remarks.

His “tale of survival” he wrote about on Facebook. “My story is for the people behind me who have worked tirelessly to make this dream a reality. To my parents who gave up everything they had for my education, to my four younger siblings who had to live far less beyond what they deserve…and to all people who walked with me along this journey, this story of survival is yours.”

Jonathan Coronel was featured in Fordham’s publication. Photo:

This year’s academic achievers were led by two summa cum laude economics graduates, Coronel and Gabrielle Magallanes from St. John’s University. They were joined by  magna cum laude graduates Jason Louie Singson (BA in Education, City College of New York) and Iris Dumaual (BA in English, St. John’s University); and cum laude graduate Blizelle Marie Tormis (BSBA in Health Services Management, Berkeley College).

Consul General Claro Cristobal welcomed the PGrad Class of 2019 and honored their scholastic achievements in various fields ranging from business, finance, economics to medical, law, social sciences, education and technology. He expressed how proud he was of the accomplishments of these graduates in raising the image of Filipinos in the U.S. northeast. 

Engr. Gil Quiniones, president and CEO of New York Power Authority, delivered the keynote address. He related his journey as a mechanical engineering graduate from De La Salle University in Manila starting out at a small energy consultant firm in New York, working at Con Edison for 16 years, and later on serving in several capacities in the public sector, telecommunications and energy industry in New York. He reminded the graduates that in whatever path they take, they need to stick to their principles, continue to innovate, and remember that “the ultimate measure of success is not the titles that you have, but what you do with those positions to make a difference in your community.” 

The graduates were awarded with PGrad diplomas and medals by Consul General Cristobal and Quiniones and certificates of merit from the Office of New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell.  Aries dela Cruz, Manhattan Regional Representative for  Governor Andrew Cuomo,  presented the Northern Star Award to Coronel on behalf of the governor.

For this year’s PGrad, the Philippine Consulate has introduced a mentoring program to connect the graduates with prospective mentors who are experts in the graduates’ chosen fields. Cristobal expressed hope that the one-year mentoring partnership would not just help the graduates enhance their skills and boost their careers but also strengthen their community engagement.

© The FilAm 2019

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