ONE inspiring story is that of 20-year-old Dennis Michael Esteban Zequerra, a nursing graduate from Midsayap, North Cotabato, whose journey through nursing school was a feat made possible not by himself alone, but by many people behind him.

They said it takes a community to raise a child. In Dennis' case, it took many relatives to help him finish the expensive course of nursing.

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The fourth of five children of a policeman father and a stay-at-home mother, Dennis recalled a simple life growing up.

Despite the hardship, Dennis said their family was not destitute, because he has parents who made them believe they could achieve whatever they want in life.

Materials possessions were scarce in their home, but values were not.

What is clearly etched in Dennis' mind is his parents' determination to send all of the children to school. "My father said he'll do whatever he can to ensure we all finish school. But nursing is such an expensive course, so we were fortunate for the help of a relative working abroad," revealed Dennis.

The support lasted only a couple of years though, and Dennis admitted to breaking down a few times, overwhelmed by financial and emotional stress and his fervent desire to finish his course. But his prayers were answered when help came.

It was a succession of assistance from his relatives and older siblings, Dyan and Louie, who had graduated and found work, that helped tide Dennis over until he completed his degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

There is a compelling reason for all these people to want to support Dennis: he is one of the smartest students in his school with a string of achievements since he was a child, and they all believe in him.

Dennis graduated Valedictorian at the Miguel Intes Elementary School and Dilangalen National High School. In college, Dennis was also a Highest Scholastic Awardee. He was the recipient of the Gloria M. Arroyo Excellence in Journalism award not once, but twice, as editor-in-chief of The Communiqu‚, their official high school organ, and of Insitu, the student paper of the Cotabato Medical Foundation College Inc.

Now all those who gave him support can rest in the ultimate validation, because yet again, Dennis achieved another feat that only someone with steel determination like him can achieve.

He placed 7th in the Philippine Nursing Licensure Exam, results that were released last January 30.

"I am very thankful to God. This experience is very humbling to me. The more I achieve something the more I humble myself," he remarked. With this feat, Dennis is the pride of not only his family, but also his relatives, friends, and especially his school and the review center where he prepared for his nursing board exams.

"Everyone in our school is elated that we have a topnotcher once again. We know Dennis to be a consistent achiever. He deserves this," said Lorna Vallar, dean of Cotabato Medical Foundation College Inc.

Vallar credits their institution's curriculum, facilities, and qualified teachers for the success of their students. "If you pair an excellent student like Dennis with a faculty that is not qualified, he would not be motivated. But if you pair an average student with a qualified teacher, the result is better," she said.

"I thank my school for making me believe education is not achieved overnight. I'm also very grateful to Prime Review Center, for polishing what we have learned in school, for supporting us and treating us like one big family, and most specially for believing in me," said Dennis, adding that he is grateful to Prime Review Center president Ma. Michaela Magtoto, whom he calls Mommy Mitz, for the special discount she gave him.

"Our goal as a review center comes straight from our heart. This is not just a business, we have a passion to help students like him," Magtoto said.

As for their role in Dennis' achievement, Magtoto gave credit to the expertise of their veteran lecturers who have produced several board topnotchers in the course of their careers.

"Our lecturers, Doctor Thianlyn Chu and Gilbert Marzan, have over 20 years of experience in the industry. From our first batch of 66 students, we now have about 800 students in a span of barely two years, just by word of mouth," she revealed.

Prime Review Center has branches in Baguio, called the review capital of the Philippines, as well as in Manila and General Santos. Its holds its main office in Davao at 6/F Gaisano South Mall, Ilustre Street, with telephones 302-8386, 222-5210, 0922-835-3672, 0917-847-3672 and website at

Prime prides itself as a "home of knowledge" that gives the best and most comprehensive review to students who want to pass the Nursing Board Examination. More than that, Mitz says Prime's concern for their students goes beyond business.

In fact, as a reward for his hard work, the Center has given Dennis an all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong with pocket money.

So it goes without saying that behind Dennis’ success are the people who loved and believed in him: his parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, and his review center "family" at Prime.

By placing 7th in the Philippine Nursing Licensure Exam, he did not only make them proud, he also returned to them the favor they all gave him.