Jillian Robredo first won the hearts of Filipinos as a young girl of 13, after she lost her father, then-Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, in a plane crash.
On Tuesday, May 16, Jillian, now 22, graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Economics and Mathematics.
Her mother, Vice President Leni Robredo, proudly chronicled the milestone event on social media.
“NY Baccalaureate today. Jillian wearing what matters most—a pendant containing her Papa’s ashes, her graduation stole with the colors of the Philippine flat and her rosas pin,” Robredo wrote in a Facebook post.
The Vice President and two elder daughters, Aika and Tricia, flew to New York for Jillian’s ceremonies, the first, for graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences at the storied Radio City Music Hall; the second, the university graduation, at Yankee Stadium.
The Vice President and her daughters were up early and at the venue by 7 a.m., even if the graduates weren’t expected till an hour later. The atmosphere was abuzz with excitement as graduates milled about in purple togas.
“The graduation is Jillian’s triumph over a lot of difficulties she had to go through. She hadn’t planned on going to New York to study, but then she got into NYU,” her mother said in an exclusive interview with Summit Media. “The first difficulty she had to hurdle was that we couldn’t afford an NYU education. Jillian had to look for scholarships just so she could go.”
From her freshman year and all throughout, Jillian worked at least 20 hours a week to supplement her scholarship funds, and had to balance work and studies.
“I think the most difficult part was when I decided to run for the presidency,” her mother said.
“She decided to be with me in Manila so that she could campaign for me. That meant campaigning during the day while attending classes at night. She suffered, but it was very clear to her where her priorities are and despite the results of the election she felt she made the best decision coming home when it mattered most. It wasn’t just because I was a candidate, but she felt very strongly about what the elections meant for the country.”
The program started off with addresses from the university leadership, the introduction of students awards, and then the highlight, the reading of the graduate’s names.
As the NYU Alma Mater hymn was played, dozens of purple and white balloons were released from the ceiling to the cheers from the new graduates. They were sent out into the world and their new adult lives with “New York, New York,” the anthem of the city.
The mother-and-daughter tandem were last spotted heading down into the subway station at Rockefeller Center.