TRAGEDY strengthened Maria Cindy Estoce’s resolve to pass the Medical Technologist Board Examinations and eventually become a doctor.

She studied for six hours every day from Monday to Friday while reviewing for the licensure exam held earlier this month. Her efforts landed her in the ninth place with an overall rating of 88 percent.

Estoce, 21, a native of Barangay Nabuad in Inabanga, Bohol, graduated from the Cebu Doctors' University (CDU).

She told Sun.Star Cebu that she did not expect to land in the top 10 of the licensure exam. She drove herself to study hard to help her family get out of poverty.

Estoce, the eldest of two children, said that in her third year in college, her mother, a public school teacher, met an accident and had to stop working.

To support the family, her mother had sell or pawn their belongings, including her wedding ring.

The Estoce family encountered another challenge. They slept in a tent for two weeks because their house was damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Visayas in October 2013.

“I wanted to be a topnotcher because that is the only way I could get a scholarship when I pursue a medical degree,” she said. “I want to help the poor who are like me.”

She took time off from study by spending the weekends with her family.

Dr. Potenciano "Yong" Larrazabal, president and chairman of CDU, told Sun.Star Cebu that they plan to give Estoce a full refund of her tuition.

He said that Estoce can also be given priority in the university’s scholarship program.

Estoce advised students to study and pray. “We should trust God. Whatever the result, it's God's will. Because his will is always the best for us,” she added.