New Star Rising

by Cynthia De Castro/

FOR the past 24 years, the University of the Philippines’ College of Law has not produced any graduate with an honor higher than cum laude. Then came Dionne Marie Mercado Sanchez.

Graduating magna cum laude and class valedictorian in 2007, Dionne is the first law graduate with that honor since 1983 and only the second female since the college started. The first was a retired Supreme Court justice who graduated more than 50 years ago.

Those who know Dionne are not surprised at her latest achievement. Her long list of amazing accomplishments is quite rare for a 28-year old; or for anyone for that matter.

She graduated summa cum laude and class valedictorian from the UP College of Business Administration in 2002. She was awarded the most outstanding BS BAA graduate of UP. In high school at the Poveda Learning Center, Dionne was named outstanding student from 1993-1997 and graduated as the class valedictorian.  She is a certified public accountant, having placed 14th in the board exams. She also has the honor of being one of the ten outstanding students in the Philippines in 2002.

“I really don’t know what motivated me to excel in school. It wasn’t any pressure from my family,” she told the Asian Journal.

Dionne explains that her family had nothing to do with her drive to surpass and set records.  “Actually, my parents and siblings are more into business. They are fun-loving. They can’t understand what drives me although they are happy about it and supportive. Sometimes I wonder myself. I guess I was born with it,” she said with a laugh.

As a kid, Dionne dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

“Maybe my decision was influenced by my watching the TV series LA Law all the time. But through my years in school, the decision has been firmed up. I want to be partner in a firm. Areas of interest are corporate and taxation. I plan to take my Masters in a few years either in US or London. I want to continue teaching in UP CBA, and if I pass the bar, in the College of Law. I also want a private practice as an investment manager. But my personal advocacy is family law.”

Passing the bar is no question for this rising star attorney. But while waiting for the official results to come out in April 2008, Dionne is working as a junior associate in Poblador, Bautista, Reyes Law Office in Makati and teaching Basic Accounting in the UP College of Business Administration.

You would think that a whiz kid like Dionne would have no time for anything else than her studies. But her many other hobbies and activities prove that Dionne believes that all study and no play makes one a dull girl. She revealed to Asian Journal how a summa cum laude can still lead a very well-rounded life.

“I love to run. I have ran two full marathons (42 kms) already. I really enjoy running. I’m currently training for the HK Standard and Charter Marathon this year. I also go to the gym regularly because I believe we should always take care of ourselves. Physical appearances, unfortunately, are very important in this world, no matter how we try to deny it.”

“When not studying, I spend time with my friends. I’ve so many barkadas. We love to drink and eat, especially at buffets. I’m really addicted to coffee shops. I like dancing. I also cook as a hobby. I love the beach…I make sure to go to Boracay at least yearly and Cebu at least twice a year…And not to forget, I also love going to the beauty parlor,” the pretty Dionne revealed.

Married to Dr. Marc Maano, a resident of dermatology at the Philippine General Hospital, Dionne plans to travel a lot, study abroad and get some work experience. She explains though that “nothing beats home when it comes to settling down and living the life!”

Good news for the Philippines which has been losing so many of its people to greener pastures abroad. “I want to be a technocrat one day. Also, I plan to continue teaching. Of course, I plan to add to the GNP/GDP by earning a lot, ” she said with a grin. “Oh and I want to do a lot of pro-bono work later on, especially in family law such as annulments, adoption, and support,” she added.


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