JR GALLARZA is the epitome of the definition ‘student-athlete.’
When not practicing with the University of the Philippines Maroons, the 22-year-old is putting a lot of work on his studies and is actually running for honors while taking up a course in Elementary Education.
“Yeah, I’m running for magna (cum laude),” he admitted on Saturday after the Maroons beat Adamson, 77-64, to end their 27-game losing skid in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Gallarza is fresh from scoring a career-high 24 points in the rare Maroons victory, which UP celebrated with a bonfire at the Sunken Garden attended by thousands of students and alumni.
Gallarza, however, said he is prouder of what he has accomplished inside the classroom.
Gallarza, who completed his high school studies in Canada, admitted it is not easy keeping up with academics while playing for the varsity team at the same time, especially in a school like UP.
“It’s hard. It’s the hardest school in college. There is basketball and then you wake up every morning knowing that you have scholarship duties. I have requirements to keep my scholarship,” he said.
While he is serious about his studies, Gallarza said he is actually a ‘clown’ in class, not allowing his status as a varsity player intimidate his classmates.
“Honestly, I’m a class clown. I have to win over my classmates because I’m kinda intimidating being 6-4 and a lot of my classmates being 16, 17 years old,” Gallarza said.
The student-athlete said he finds his motivation to excel in academics from his parents, who have been providing all of his needs, especially since UP does not have a well-funded basketball program.
“I have a promise to my parents to graduate with honors. That’s a personal thing that I want to do for them,” said the Maroons forward.
“They spend so much time and money to provide for me. Like you said, there aren’t a lot of funds going into UP. My parents have been providing me with everything. I just want to do that, the whole education thing, for them.”