People from different walks of life go through different things. There are those who had it easy and there are those who needed to work and strive extra hard to reach their dreams. It’s the journey to reaching these dreams that shapes a person and makes them an inspiration to everyone else. This graduation season, let’s look back at past inspiring graduation stories and discover new ones that will hopefully fuel us to give our best in anything we do. If these people could do it, so could we!
Everyone needs inspiration no matter where they are in life. Here are yours for the week:
A jeepney driver’s daughter that finished as an Atenean valedictorian
Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña graduated Cum Laude from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in B.A. Management in Economics. Coming out at the top of her class wasn’t the only thing that made her extraordinary.
Hyacenth, born to a then-construction worker and a sales lady, shared how the barrier of poverty and the unequal opportunity was a wall she had to hurdle through multiple times throughout her life. She and her siblings grew up helping their parents by selling food and items in the streets, another one of the “unseen poor” as she calls it. She might be an exception to the norm but she’s looking forward to a world where her situation is the norm and not the exception.
Hyacenth is also the president of Ateneo’s student council. Being an Atenean she was privileged to be provided a view from “up the hill” and she now encourages every Atenean to be generous and share their light to the rest of the world.
These two Filipinas graduated summa cum laude from Wharton School and New York University
Lara Andrea Montales
Even in a foreign country and miles away from home, Filipinos continue to make fellow Pinoys proud.
Last year, Lara Andrea Montales, 21, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA degree in economics, major in finance and business analytics from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her academic life has always shone with awards and recognition. She graduated valedictorian at Colegio San Agustin-Makati and graduated with high honors at the Philippine Science High School-Main.
A mere hundred miles away, in the same year, another Filipina was awarded the highest academic honor. Janelle Micaela S. Panganiban graduated Summa Cum Laude from the New York University with three majors: global public health, public policy, sociology (honors). In her interview with Inquirer.net, she shares that everybody should drop their fear of getting out of their comfort zones but should instead engage in conversation and explore the world more.
Both students got to their respective universities with the help of College Admissions Mentors for Peers (CAMP) Philippines, an organization that provides and expands international education opportunities for young Filipinos.
This year’s PMA graduates are led by a woman
Cadet First Class Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla of Alilem town, Ilocos Sur province, graduated at the top of her class in the male-dominated Philippine Military Academy (PMA). The youngest of 4 siblings and the only girl, her mother encouraged her to enter PMA instead of pursuing an education degree in Mathematics. Despite her father leaving their family nearly two decades ago, Umalla is strengthened by the love and support from her mother and siblings. During graduation, she received multiple awards and plaques and is now set to join the Navy.
This year’s PMA batch has 73 female cadets, 5 of whom belong to the top 10. The achievements of these women in a male-dominated field remind the rest of us that there is nothing impossible when you have a dream you want to pursue.
OFW and Single mom graduates at the age of 42
Everyone works and lives at their own pace, nobody is “too late.” Michelle Sison, 42, embodies this principle. Michelle is an ex-OFW and a single mom who pursued a degree in Secondary Education at the National Teachers College (NTC). She joins the ranks of graduates this year proudly bearing the award of Cum Laude given by the institution.
Michelle is the eldest of 5 children and at a young age she devoted herself to working to support her younger siblings. Now that her siblings have already graduated, they returned her hard work and labor and helped her get through 4 years of studying. Michelle ultimately encourages anyone who hears her story to be diligent in achieving their dreams.
81-year-old Nanay Sally graduates high school
Age is really just a number and Nanay Sally (Salvacion Nacario) is proof. At 81 years old she just graduated Senior High School last April at Fort Bonifacio High School in Makati. Despite her difficulties in walking and a mild stroke back in 2016, she never let these get in her way of wearing that graduation robe and claiming that diploma. Nanay Sally reveals that she wanted to become a military nurse when she was younger, the career and dream that she had to give up due to poverty. Decades later, she gets to pursue her dream!
PUP’s first transgender graduate
Ianne Gamboa will be known as the first transgender graduate of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Last year, she finished Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in English. She acknowledges that without the support of her family, especially her father who is a Senior Police Officer, she wouldn’t have made it. The challenges she encountered along the way as a transgender woman weren’t easy but once she surrounded herself with people who accepted her and supported her for who she is, it made the journey better. Now, she is a strong LGBTQ+ advocate helping to shape and provide a voice for the community.
UPD graduate honors taho vendor
This might not be about Alex’s graduation but it is about how being surrounded by the right people who would encourage you and support you is sometimes all the help you need in this world.
Dahn Saliendra raises his
broom flag to fellow working students
What’s your favorite and inspiring graduation story this 2019? Share it with us below!