Graduates, congratulations and good luck!

Graduates, congratulations and good luck!

DEAR graduates, there are two things people would constantly tell you on your graduation, ‘’congratulations’’ and ‘’good luck’’.

Congratulations because after years of studies, you finally made it. The long hours spent studying lessons are over, the sleepless nights for accomplishing projects are gone, you defended your thesis, you passed your examinations, you survived terror professors, and you hurdled all other requirements. Indeed, congratulations for doing so. You deserve our compliments. We know you worked hard for it, and we appreciate what you have accomplished so much.

But ‘’good luck’’ too, because you truly need it. When you walk out of the four corners of your university, that’s when reality hits you. You will realize that that victorious feeling you had when you set foot on the stage to receive your diploma is but a fleeting moment of triumph. You will now have a first-hand experience of how difficult it is to compete with others to land a job. You will either be challenged or be discouraged when you see how prevailing systems in hiring job applicants are prejudiced against those coming from small and non-elitist schools. It is not your fault though. Many graduates ahead of you suffered from this unjust practice. Unfortunately, we have yet to see our institutions do something to level the playing field. We have yet to see our government give equal opportunities to all graduates from any school or university. If it is not the task of the government to provide jobs, it should at least create an enabling environment for generating jobs, something that matches the ever-growing demand for it. Please bear in mind too, that sometimes it is no longer about what we know but about whom we know.

Some are of the opinion that education should not always be thought of as geared towards a profession. They believed that education is about forming the mind, equipping it with the necessary tools to discover and understand the world. It is also about forming the person so that he/she may become an asset to his/her family and society. That the goal of education is not merely profit, rather it also focuses on the education of the heart, so that we may become more caring of others. It is not calling attention to ourselves but preparing ourselves to serve others well.

I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, many would like to graduate and eventually earn a living so they could help their parents and siblings. I am sure that when you painstakingly hurdled all challenges and make a total commitment to reach this stage, you have your loved ones in your thoughts. It is, therefore, satisfying to hear you say, “This graduation is for my parents. I want to repay their sacrifices for me. This is also for my siblings, I may now be able to send them to school.”

Graduates, it is always a challenge to “die to the self”. It is not easy to sacrifice more for the sake of others.  But I am not asking you to do the impossible. All I am telling you is to be honest and give witness to the truth when all others are lying; to be patient when others are becoming a burden; to be understanding when dealing with the ignorant; to be courageous in facing wrongs; to be respectful in the midst of competition; and to be humble amid success and plenty. Do all these, and later you will realize that true victory happens not when you receive your diploma but when others respect you not simply for what you are but for who are to them.

Indeed, education not only leads you to acquiring a profession. It also makes heroes out of you. When you put the good of others ahead of you, you become an extraordinary person. You become a hero to your family, a model to your community , and an asset to society.

The Scholastics would say, “Non scholae sed vitae discimus”, which means, “we study not just for school, but for life”.

I just hope that you did all the right and good things to merit this graduation. But if you cheated so you could pass your course, do not be a cheat later on. Don’t cheat on your would-be spouse. Do not cheat the company you’ll work for, your clients, and others. If you cut classes and loitered, be thankful that you will graduate, but remember luck easily runs out and very possibly you may not have it the next time. If you copied a project or let others write your paper, bear in mind that an employee’s performance is observed and rated in the confines of an office and not in the nooks and crannies of Recto. If you were always either late or absent during classes, take heed not to feel entitled. Many new graduates exude this attitude. It turns off bosses. You have not proven anything yet. Be humble. If you are just ‘’pasang-awa,’’ don’t amuse yourself. Work hard. Strive more. Go the extra mile. Learn the value of sacrifice. Remember, the road to success is difficult and hard.

Graduates, please admit that you were not perfect students. There are things you still need to learn and there are habits that need to be undone. So, learning continues. Be adaptable to your environment, but learn to shun what is wrong. Do not tolerate evil, but conquer evil with good. Do not be tempted to be eaten-up by rotten social systems, effect change and be the change. Society pins its hope on you. The Church sees you with confidence and expectation. Bring a bright future to our country.

I know that you have your own dreams and expectations. You have your own goals to achieve. The Church is praying for you. The Church would like to see the fulfillment of everything you’re striving for. Do not be deterred by failure. Keep on trying. Pray to God, He is our hope.

When things are not happening according to plan, remember the story of Santiago. He was a young man who embarked on a journey in search of a treasure buried in a field. Along the way, he met an old man named Melchizedek. This old man taught him a lesson he wouldn’t forget. The old man said, ‘’Every man has his own personal legend. This is something one always wishes to accomplish. In pursuing it, he will meet different mysterious forces that will either destroy his plan and discourage him or inspire and push him to achieve it. Take courage and believe in yourself no matter what happens. You will then notice that everything in the universe will conspire to help you achieve your goal.”

Santiago continued with his journey. Unfortunately, it was not all safe and peaceful because of discouraging events that nearly made him quit. He was robbed, almost beaten to death, lost his money and other things necessary for the journey. But he continued until he met a lovely, young woman named Fatima whom he promised to marry after finding the treasure. From then on, there was no stopping Santiago in looking for the treasure even in the midst of dangers, threats, and occasions of near death. He finally found it and returned to the woman who stole his heart.

That, my dear graduates, is the story of The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Today, start thinking of your ‘’personal legend’’ and be prepared to meet all sorts of ‘’mysterious forces.” As you embark on your own journey, don’t quit. Take courage. Believe in yourself and more importantly, believe in God! When you feel helpless, don’t lose hope because hope is not putting a limit to what God can do. Indeed, when we have nothing left but God, we become more aware that God is more than enough.

Dear graduates, congratulations and good luck!