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Graduate makes history as MSU's first Moro summa cum laude


COTABATO City, Philippines - Aiman Cairoden, son of a poor Maranaw widow, just wanted to have a college diploma so he can have a decent job and help send his five siblings to school.

Cairoden did not just receive a college diploma on Thursday (April 4), but also brought honor and fame to his home-province of Lanao del Sur for graduating summa cum laude from the state-run Mindanao State University's (MSU) 2013 Bachelor of Science in Biology class. 

He is the first ever Moro student to achieve such feat since the creation of the University in 1961. 

The MSU is the biggest government-owned university in Mindanao. 

Cairoden, son of a Maranaw driver who died in a car accident two years ago, is an ethnic Maranaw from the first district of Lanao del Sur. 

Since the university was created in 1961, all of its summa cum laude graduates were non-Muslims, mostly Visayans. 

Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, representative of the women sector to the 27-member Regional Assembly, said she was fascinated with the determination of Cairoden to succeed in life and become a benefactor of his five siblings. 

Tomawis met Cairoden in Marawi City just before the MSU’s graduation rites, where they talked about insights on the plight of Moro students who belong to impoverished families in far-flung areas in Lanao del Sur and surrounding provinces.

Cairoden, who finished elementary and high school in barrio schools, is the eldest in the family. 

He sustained his schooling after his father’s demise with meager stipends from his mother, and a monthly allowance from the Lininding Foundation, which helps poor Moro students at MSU. 

Cairoden’s mother and siblings wept as he delivered his valedictory address before 1,926 graduates at the Dimaporo Gymnasium inside the MSU campus.

“I was so inspired by this young graduate. I hope other children of poor families would emulate his examples,” said an international relations graduate of MSU, Ali Macabalang. 

Cairoden was known in the MSU campus as a studious and frugal student, who spent his money wisely.

He has many Muslim and Christian friends from whom he borrowed science text books. 

Relatives said Cairoden is still uncertain if he would proceed to study medicine or immediately look for a job so he can help send his younger siblings to school.

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