FOR some, passing an exam--school exams, Civil Service exams, or even licensure exams--is achievement enough. Some are happy with being average and getting enough to pass the exam. But if passing an examination is already a big achievement, how much more if you made it with flying colors?

The official results of this year’s Criminology Licensure Examination (CLE) were released last June 30, by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). And while the top spot went to Gander Suello Quillip of the University of Mindanao–Digos College who ranked first with a score of 88.40 percent rating, three Kagay-anons were among the top 10: Kagay-anons Hegel Ysadore Ragasajo (top 6), Jeanny Ann Balboa (7), and Reymark Labitad (8) with scores of 87.10 percent, 87.5 percent, and 86.95 perfect respectively.

All three are graduates of the Cagayan de Oro College–Phinma Education Network.

The eldest of six, Ragasajo is a resident of Lumbia village in this city. He said his family always had high expectations for him as he is the eldest. When he was in fourth year high school, his ambition was to become a psychologist but was advised by his father to take Criminology.

“Perseverance is the most common reason why people make it. Perseverance not only in my studies but also building up motivation for myself and my family,” he said when asked how he did it.

He said he did not expect to be among the top 10. But during review, Balboa, Labitad, and he would get good scores. But he said taking the CLE was tough. Out of 10 persons who took the exam with him, 7 or 8 did not make it.

“When studying, I really made sure that I have the time to study in the morning, and in the evening. And our school did us a big help because we were having review sessions every Saturday and Sunday. During weekdays, we were in our individual homes, so we have our own strategies of studying,” he shared regarding on the kind of preparations they have made for this exam.

“Just focus on your studies. It is not impossible to pass the examination because from the moment that you sit on that chair in your room during studies, every word and lessons that your teacher has spoken, would be substance to the board examination. So it means that we are on the same level. The only difference is that, whoever wants to top would do the extra efforts in doing so. And what I feel right now is that I am so happy, overwhelmed, blessed, and thankful – mixed emotions really,” he added.

Balboa said she could not contain the happiness that she felt upon learning that she was among the top takers.

“Out of 20,000 takers, only 5,000 passed. And I feel so lucky being one. Aside from acing the exam, I also made it to top 7. So, it’s super blessed, thankful, and overwhelmed at the same time,” she said.

She said that she is also the eldest among three siblings. Her parents parted ways when she was still young. But she said she did not have any hatred towards her father who now has another family like her mother. Instead, she used her family experience to motivate herself to do well in whatever she set her mind to.

Balboa said she lives with her mother’s new family but it was her father who inspired her to take criminology. Her father is a soldier, and also a graduate of Criminology in Cagayan de Oro College.

“What I did is to focus on my goals, as what my mother advised me to do so. All the hardships that I have been made me who I am today, despite of all the people who tried to pull me and my family down, I continued to pursue my dreams. Even if I have my migraine who would attack me anytime, even if that would affect my study time, I still continued to do some adjustments, and that made me navigate this far. Right before studying, I made sure that I have read first a verse in the bible, in fact I have one particular verse in Proverbs 3:5-6. Praying, reading, and studying, that’s all I did,” she shared.

Labitad, also the eldest among 2 siblings, came from the town of Baungon in the province of Bukidnon. Like Balboa and Ragasajo, he said what he felt upon hearing the news of his achievement cannot be described. He said he is the first one to graduate in his clan with a Bachelor’s Degree.

“At first, when I enrolled myself as a criminology student, I really wanted to be a policeman. But the moment that the result came out (which I unexpectedly made with flying colors), my mindset changed. It is because there are lots of opportunities along the way already. My target is for that long range opportunities, so I have to make sure that the choice am going to make would be the best and the one that will make me and my family happy,” he said.

He even shared what his family went through. He said often had to seek help from relatives but he said he never lost hope, believing that someday, he will achieve success.

“For me, taking that board exam was not about intelligence. Whoever read a lot had the edge,” he said echoing the recurring theme among his fellow top notchers.

Perseverance and hard work do pay off.

Ragasajo, Balboa, and Labitad are set to take their oaths as registered criminologists this July 30 (for the regional oath taking) and Augusts 12 (for the National Oath taking). All three will then be able attach the letters R and C after their names.