UPAA-NJ names 2018 Distinguished UP Alumni awardees

/ 09:58 PM December 04, 2018

PRINCETON JUNCTION, New Jersey — Three distinguished UP alumni will be honored by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association New Jersey Chapter, Inc. (UPAA-NJ), at its biennial General Assembly and Holiday Party on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 12 to 5 p.m. at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey.


The three honorees are: Maria Elizabeth Cueva, Esq. for Public Service; Diane Dacanay-Valencia for Culture and the Arts; and Dr. Francisca Tolete-Velcek for Medicine, Education and Public Health. (Norie Quesada-Catiis chaired the awards committee.)


Maria Elizabeth Cueva, Esq.

Distinguished Up Alumna In Public Service

Maria Elizabeth Cueva, presently a Human Rights Specialist at the Brooklyn Regional Office of the New York State Division of Human Rights responsible for handling discrimination cases, received her bachelor of arts in political science (cum laude) and JD / LLB degrees from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

She obtained her master’s degree in industrial and labor relations under the Executive Cohort Program at Baruch College of The City University of New York.

In recognition of her academic excellence she was named to the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi (undergraduate), the International Honor Society of Pi Gamma Mu (law) and the National Honorary and Professional Management Fraternity / Society of Sigma Iota Epsilon, Baruch Chapter, Zicklin School of Business after completing her master’s degree.

Diane Dacanay-Valencia


Distinguished UP Alumna in Culture and the Arts

Diane Dacanay-Valencia, a founding member and president of the New Jersey-based University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla, Inc. (UPAFR) for over a decade, graduated from the University of the Philippines with A.B. sociology and MBA degrees.

A Philippine government scholar, she obtained a master’s degree in regional development planning from the Institute of Social Studies (The Hague in the Netherlands).

Her exemplary leadership, dedication and vision steered the UPAFR in evolving from being mainly a cultural organization to including educational and philanthropic aspects in its mission and projects.

UPAFR has been presenting educational musical programs that integrate Philippine history, customs and traditions to diverse audiences in key cities in various countries.

Dr. Francisca Tolete Velcek

Distinguished UP Alumna in Medicine, Education and Public Health

Dr. Francisca Tolete Velcek, a pediatric surgeon, has distinguished herself professionally both in the U.S. and internationally.Certified by the American Board of Surgery, she is licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey, New York and California.

She serves as a role model and mentor to female students and residents in medicine specially surgery.

Soon after completing her BS and MD degrees at UP and her internship at the Philippine General Hospital, she began her residency at St. Clare’s Hospital Medical Center in New York City where she became an administrative chief resident.

She was later named chief resident of pediatric surgery at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. where she also completed her fellowship in pediatric surgery and is presently serving as a professor of pediatrics and director of its division of pediatric surgery.

Holding concurrent appointments as an attending surgeon or chief of pediatric surgery at multiple medical centers in Brooklyn, she also serves as a consulting surgeon at several hospitals in New Jersey and New York, as well as at the Klaiceva National Childrens Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia.

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TAGS: academic honors, alumni awards, distinguished UP alumni, Filipino holiday party, professional recognition, state university alumni, University of the Philippines Alumni Association New Jersey Chapter (UPAA-NJ)
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