Best of both worlds

Excelling in academics and sports is no easy feat. But 20-year-old Juan Antonio Mendoza aced both, reaping medals in several swimming competitions and emerging Magna Cum Laude with Cumulative Weighted Average Grade (CWAG) of 1.3094 in the recent graduation rites of the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao.

“I just focused on doing my best and working hard every time to achieve a Latin honor,” the Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Economics graduate said in a Facebook interview with SunStar Davao.

He also received a Chancellor’s Medal for Athletic Achievement, Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence and Dean’s Medal for Athletic Achievement.

The UP Mindanao varsity swim team captain shared that he scheduled time for training and study and he strictly followed it. He had classes from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during weekdays but he makes sure to train for swimming on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. He only trains everyday whenever there’s an upcoming competition.

“I live by the motto, `Do it well, or don’t do it at all’. This is something my parents taught me since I was young,” he said, adding that he is also motivated to give back to all those who helped him achieve.

Swimming coach Vasit Venturillo’s words, “Your mentors can only teach you values and skills but it’s up to you to live by them and use them to be a better person”, also remain his guiding principle in life.

The son of Lionel and Antoinette studied at Precious International School of Davao during elementary and high school. He was also the High School Class Valedictorian in 2015.

He took up Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Economics because he wanted to follow the footsteps of his Dad who is a Bachelor of Science in Economics graduate of UP Los Banos.

Mendoza started swimming at age 10.

He competed in several competitions including the National State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (Scuaa) where he swept gold medals for UP Mindanao and Scuaa Region 11. He brought home two gold medals, two silvers and one bronze in the National Scuaa 2018 Finals in Antique and also another gold in the National Scuaa 2017 Finals held at the Batangas State University.

“The highlights of my swimming career are my representations for the country to the recent BIMP EAGA Games in Brunei last December 2018 and most recently, the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia last April 2019 where I bagged the bronze medal for the men’s 200 individual medley (IM) event,” he said.

Mendoza, a fan of Michael Phelps and Caeleb Dressel, also said he will continue to swim competitively for his club and his new school if given the opportunity.

He was recently accepted into the Juris Doctor program of the University of Southeastern Philippines, School of Law as part of its pioneering batch.

He is set to fly to Canada this week as a graduation gift from his aunt.


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