IN THIS age and time, it is heartwarming to discover students who excel and remain conscientious to their studies and goals in life.

John Nathan G. Fernandez, 17, only son of Jay and Ivy G. Fernandez, is off to Nanyang Technological University to study Art, Design & Media for the academic year 2010 to 2011 as part of the 2009 Singapore Scholarship of the Singapore government.

Of the hundreds who applied, only four Filipino students successfully passed the written and oral interview.

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"The course covers covers animation, interactive media, film and computer designs," he said in an interview.

His love for computer designs is evident, dabbling with enhancing photos with Photoshop and editing video clips using a single computer. It started when he was in elementary when he was most interested in playing computer games.

In his spare time, he plays around with computer software and has explored Photoshop extensively, perhaps even putting to shame professional layout artists. In fact, his profile picture for this article was enhanced by Nathan himself.

"It's just like painting but instead of the canvass you have the computer and you are using pictures and then creating layers," he said.

Nathan's academic achievements are quite impressive, too.

He graduated third honors at the Ateneo de Davao high school and has been a consistent honor student.

He placed second at the national level of the Philippine Association of Junior IT Achievers in Visual Basic 6 Programming. He also bagged the second place at the regional level of the Philippine Association of Junior IT Achievers in Visual Basic 6 Programming. Nathan also was the lay-out editor of the The Blue Knight, Addu's school paper, a task he must have truly enjoyed.

However, like other teens his age, Nathan also enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing computer games and watching his favorite movies on DVD. The difference is that Nathan has a goal and he has strove hard to achieve it.

"My dream job is with Pixar (Hollywood animation company) or any game company. My dream is to create my own game," he says.

Nathan admits that in playing computer games, he finds some of them lacking in enhancements and dreams of ways of improving these computer games.

"Paminsan, napapansin ko may kulang sa settings, parang bland. Or yung strategy," he says.

The scholarship will also bring Nathan away from his family for the first time. At such a young age, the boy remains unfazed.

"In fact, I am excited to be on my own. I find it a challenge. I could hardly wait," he said.

Nathan leaves for Singapore later this month to follow his dream. He is allowed to come home only for the holidays, which is four months away yet.

The ambassador of Singapore to the Philippines, A. Selverajah, presented the awards to the four recipients of the scholarships at the Singapore Embassy last month. Nathan has this advice to students his age.

"You have to be diligent if you have a goal. You must work on it until you get to the spot where you want to be," he said.