(Message on behalf of the graduates of Ateneo de Davao University, Class of 2021, by Harvey Spence Paguilion Kentilitisca, Valedictorian, during their virtual graduation on Saturday, 17 April 2021. Kentilitisca has contributed several pieces to MindaNews’ youth section, Batang Mindanaw)
We could still imagine that exactly a year ago, we once interacted in the Halls of Ateneo, bought snacks at the caf, and even slept in the library as we waited for our next classes. What a fun and challenging first quarter of 2020.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic came along.
A year ago, we were so excited to claim that the school year 2020-2021 was going to be our final year of our college life. However, this time, the pandemic disrupted almost every possible normalcy that we could have, that includes the way we received our instructions and lessons from our professors. Despite the very challenging mode of learning, we were able to survive.
To add what Ms. Kate mentioned, we were the batch that was so filled with hesitations: Should I stop? Should I continue my studies? What now?
While our own sceneries were very much clouded with the reality that we are all currently facing, the Class of 2021 continued to push further. Amidst the uncertainties, our batch — with all the highs and lows — marveled through the times when we were supposed to feel safe and secured.
We juggled everything online and at home, and not to mention how internally taxing it is to have two of your façades all under one roof.
We mix and match self-discipline and self-control to the things that distract us in our academic way of living.
We jump through a pool of commitments, internships, thesis, and defense, with the thought in mind of whether we will graduate on time or not. Indeed, most of us would highly agree that this last year of ours was the most difficult year for all of us.
Despite all of those challenges and difficulties, this graduation ceremony — along with the black toga that we are wearing — serves as proof that we defeated the hardships with our own craftsmanship, and with the help and support from our friends and loved ones.
However, the pandemic has taught us more than just time management. Above all, it taught us the value of staying afloat through all means. With this and on behalf of the graduates, we cannot emphasize this enough — thank you to our beloved parents, relatives, friends, acquaintances, and strangers, who have helped us in making us accomplish this awaited moment of our lives. We are forever in debt to the people behind our success as graduates, because these are the ones who silently gave us the reason to continue.
With their support, this particular shared experience of ours molded our own sacrifices into a self-sustaining force that continues to propel us further as we take another step in our lives.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to us, our growth, and our identity. The present context has shaped us with quite unique narratives, and all of us have stories to tell as we try to flourish in the real world that is waiting for us.
To my fellow graduates, another chapter of ours has just recently ended. As we look forward to what is next, may we remind ourselves that…
In a world where rewards are sought after,
May we find our purpose.
In a future that we cannot foresee,
May we acknowledge the process.
In the consequences of our actions,
May we realize the power we hold.
In everything that we do,
May we do it with passion tenfold.
To conclude our journey as graduates, I would like to invite everyone that as we move out from the portals of our beloved alma mater, may we not to forget the very important lessons we learned, apart from the professional competencies of our courses. More importantly, the ideals of our Ateneo education, Ignatian Spirituality, the promotion of common good based on social justice, love for the environment, and the generation of wealth and its equitable distribution — let us not forget that we are called to be ADDU Sui Generis Leaders.
As I end this speech, let me finally introduce myself. I am Harvey Spence Paguilion Kentilitisca, a graduate of AB Psychology, and together with the Class of 2020 and 2021, we continue to seek our identity as we appreciate the process of finding our purpose, power, and passion within this world.
Thank you. Praying for a better future ahead of us.
(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Harvey Spence P. Kentilitisca, Valedictorian of Class 2021 at the Ateneo de Davao University, dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist)