Posted: May 5, 2014



Lester P. Rivera is smart. Scary smart. In 2009, he graduated summa cum laude from FEU East Asia with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, and he’s got about a million certifications. Continue reading to find out more about this extraordinary scholar and how his life is the stuff of legends

When you first meet Lester P. Rivera, he gives you the impression that he’s pretty ordinary—a quiet, modest guy. Nothing special. This is a good example of how first impressions can be deceiving. Lester is far from ordinary. In fact,  ask his batch mates, and they’ll basically tell you the same thing: Lester is a genius.

He was in the top 3 of his high school graduating batch. At FEU East Asia, he maintained his academic scholarship for all four years. He was given numerous distinctions and honors, including graduating summa cum laude, the highest distinction a graduate can receive—he was also the first one ever to do it, in I.T. His batch mates used to say that, for Lester, it was a piece of cake.

But Lester denies being a genius. “My only secret is hard work and a passion to learn any subject,” he said. “I’m not a super student. I’m not a super hero.”

Like a lot of students, Lester found his English courses difficult, especially English Literature. “I found it hard to love,” he said. “It’s definitely not my favorite subject.” But, according to him, to do well in any subject, even the ones you hate the most, it simply requires the right attitude.

“It’s just a matter of forcing your mind to love a subject. Also, you have to find the right motivation. My mind-set was that I didn’t want to lose my scholarship. It’s hard, bringing that kind of expense to my family. That’s why, whenever there was a subject that I didn’t like, I always thought that it was my scholarship on the line. So, I found the will to study.”

When asked about being the first to graduate summa cum laude, Lester gave a similar answer: “Initially, my target was only to graduate and maintain my scholarship. But then I was challenged. They said, no student had ever received the highest honor, summa cum laude. So I decided that I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to show them that being Summa is not just a legend. That was my motivation.”

Lester’s ability to motivate himself has carried him pretty far in the world. His list of certifications is impressive:

He was also a faculty member at FEU East Asia for a short while. As of now, he’s an Application Technical Analyst at Chevron, one of the world’s largest energy corporations.

His advice to students still working their way through college is simple: “You need passion and hard work. If you have these two things, no matter how bokya you were before, eventually everything will turn into success.”

Whether or not Lester is a genius— we still think he is—doesn’t seem to matter much. Without the power to motivate himself, Lester doesn’t think he could’ve accomplished what he has so far; the genius of Lester really lies less in his brains and more in his dedication. And, it doesn’t take a genius to see how the right amount of dedication can make anyone into a legend.”