Leah Angela Cioco studies Applied Math at the University of the Philippines. She is an entrepreneur, published writer, and dreams of redefining her country’s education system for the next generation of Filipino students.
She is co-founder of The Independent Collective (IndieCo), a media production start-up that pushes boundaries through socially engaged conversations. Through IndieCo, Leah aims to create a safe space for young thought leaders, innovators, and the youth at large to see themselves reflected in the media and make them feel empowered to create change. It aspires to help the next generation of independent leaders and thinkers to stay informed about news they care about, to be able to see and share stories of amazing people doing important things and to provide more opportunities to showcase humanity. IndieCo’s ‘Young Blood Writers’ Program’ has helped high school students get published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the New York Times, and other news publications and academic journals. Its podcast episodes have been used as supplementary educational resources by local high schools. To date, it has reached 2.3 million people globally and has garnered support and funding from the National Development Research Council of the Philippines (NDRCP), start-up incubator Brainsparks.ph, and AIESEC.
After spending two years training with the Philippine Math Team and winning multiple awards, Leah worked with the Purple Sage Project, formerly the University of the Philippines (UP) Cats, in providing affordable tutorial services for grades 9-12 students preparing for the toughest college exam in the Philippines: College Entrance Test. With over 100,000 takers, only 8-10% qualify. At Purple Sage, Leah spent 10-12 hours weekly from April 2019 - August 2020 to teach pre-calculus, and through her work assisted thirteen students from three different regions in the Philippines to gain admission to UP with full-ride tuition scholarships.
Leah also works for the College Admissions Mentors for Peers (CAMP) Philippines. This is a student-run mentorship program which also hosts a study abroad conference, aiming to help local high school students study abroad. Leah has personally mentored three high school seniors who have gained admission to their target schools in the United States with a cumulative $80,000 in annual financial aid packages.
A creative as well as a mathematician, Leah gained admission to Harvard University’s highly competitive pre-college program on Creative Writing which spurred her on to write her first novel–an excerpt of which was published by Scarlett Leaf Publishing in 2020; three personal essays that were published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer from 2018-2019; and ultimately, her memoir–an excerpt of which will be published by Chicken Soup for the Soul for its “Attitude for Gratitude” book release this August 2022. At the moment, she is working on her second novel, which she is submitting for the LitUp Fellowship of Reese’s Book Club, a fellowship for unpublished underrepresented women writers.
Through IndieCo, Leah wrote a 10-minute short film and a seven-part web series and will also be releasing its first merchandise collection in collaboration with Vague Company entitled, "Be Bold. Be Brash. Be Brave."