2016 Topnotcher: Success measured by purposeful life

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol April 25,2018 - 10:03 PM


As the results of the 2017 Bar exams are scheduled to be released today, Karen Mae Calam, the University of San Carlos(USC) graduate in Cebu City, who landed the top spot in the 2016 Bar exams urged examinees to keep dreaming big, and to entrust everything to the Lord no matter what the outcome is.

“Sweet surrender that is. Pray and trust in the Lord Almighty. The bar is a humbling experience. It is impossible to control all the factors that would guarantee success. Nevertheless, remember that there lies faith in the absence of control,” she said.

Obtaining a feat no other law graduate from a Cebu school ever achieved may be everybody’s fantasy.

But for Calam, there is more to clinching the top spot in the Bar examinations that all must work hard for.

“Success is not merely measured by the awards one receives or the money one makes,” she told Cebu Daily News.

“True success is when we instead create meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling lives for ourselves, and we use that to make an impact and a difference in the lives of others,” she added.

The justices of the High Court will hold a special en banc session today to deliberate on the results of the Bar exams, particularly on whether to maintain or adjust the passing grade.

Afterwhich, the results will then be announced.

For those who will make it, Calam challenged them not to rest on their laurels, but to do more, not only for themselves, but for humanity.

“To accomplish some measure of greatness, should not foreclose, but rather, inspire us to endeavor to do something even greater,” she said.

With a rating of 89.05 percent, Calam, 30, clinched the top spot in the 2016 Bar exams, one of the toughest licensure examinations in the country and the most glorified.

Calam was joined by three other Carolinians in the top ten: Fiona Cristy Lao placed third, Anne Margaret Momongan ranked seventh, while Jefferson Gomez secured the eighth spot.

The Bar exam, which is given for four consecutive Sundays, covers Political Law and Labor Law for the first Sunday, Civil Law and Taxation for the second Sunday, Mercantile Law and Criminal Law for the third Sunday and, Remedial Law and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises for the last Sunday.

About a year since she made it on top, things had gone well for Calam—both in her career and family life.

“I feel like my life is going to the direction I have imagined it to be. I am now a wife to a loving husband, a daughter to my parents, a sister to a sibling, a daughter of God, and a Filipino. Simply put, I am an ordinary person, who faces the everyday struggles of living and enjoys the wonders of this world,” said Calam who is now the associate director of the SGV & Co. accounting firm Business Tax Services in Cebu City.

Calam, also a certified public accountant, said clinching the top spot in the Bar exams can serve as an inspiration for everyone not to be afraid to dream big.

While she was not among the top 10 law students of USC, she worked and prayed extra hard for a slot in the top 10 of the 2016 Bar exams.

“Bar was a humbling experience. When I think of how big the blessing God had endowed me, I sometimes feel unworthy of His favor. But more than the greatness, I know this blessing carries a responsibility in return,” said the native of Kalilangan town, Bukidnon.

Calam said she plans to acquire more knowledge in other fields, gain enough experience, and establish a reputation other than being a “topnotcher.”
On top of her list is to provide legal aid or representation for those who cannot afford it.

“By providing legal aid, a lawyer could get a grasp of the common problems the community faces. And hopefully, the legal community would be instrumental in formulating a solution to the said problems,” Calam said.

Amid the hullabaloo over the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Calam urged lawyers to always maintain the honor and dignity of their profession as essential agents in the administration of justice.

“The dispensation of justice is not a burden of the judiciary alone to undertake. We are in this system together as active partners, and that any dissatisfaction with one of us constitutes a potential grievance against our justice system and against our society,” she said.

“In every circumstance, let us all set aside our personal differences, and choose to uphold the law. It is only when we speak a common language that order is maintained,” she added.

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