[Blueboard] Speeches at the Class 2004 Scholars & Benefactors Get-together

Efren Debulgado edebulgado at ateneo.edu
Wed Mar 24 09:22:04 PHT 2004


Please find below the speeches given at the Get-together of Benefactors 
and Class 2004 Scholars last March 14, 2004, Escaler Hall, SEC Complex, 
Loyola Heights Campus. This is an annual event that allows the 
University's benefactors to meet their graduating scholars.

Thank you.

Fr. Nemy S. Que, S.J. (coll75)
Director for Admissions & Aid
Loyola Schools

 

Thanksgiving Address to Benefactors
by Charlotte Kendra G. Castillo, Class 2004 Valedictorian

Distinguished benefactors, Ateneo officials, scholars, ladies and 
gentlemen, good afternoon and thank you for coming today.

During my college years, I developed this habit of singing a song before 
exams or during any other time I felt nervous. That song is “Amazing 
Grace.” It is my reminder that all I can do is give my best, then I have 
to let go and let God take care of the rest. Today, I would like to 
bring this song to bear upon our occasion.  Because of God’s grace, as 
the song goes, those who were lost are now found, those who were blind 
can now see. In this sense, education is a grace, for it is through 
education that we find ourselves, discover our capabilities and 
potentials, understand our roles and responsibilities in society, and 
gain direction for the future. Thus, I am grateful to be standing in 
front of you now, as one of those given the grace of education through a 
scholarship.

A scholarship was actually one of the conditions my parents had before 
letting me enter the Ateneo. They told me that if God meant for me to be 
in the Ateneo, He would give us a sign – and that sign would be a 
scholarship! I’m sure that it is the same case for most if not all the 
graduating scholars here today. Because of the generosity and goodwill 
of 67 individual and group benefactors who supported their tuition fees, 
dorm and allowance needs, 214 scholars were able to avail of an Atenean 
education and are graduating this year!

As much as we are all happy to be graduating and raring to go out into 
the world and forge our own paths, we cannot help but look back on our 
four years, and be thankful for having been part of the Ateneo family. 
I, for one, found a home in the Ateneo. I found a philosophy of holistic 
education that met my ideals, my needs and wants. I found a culture that 
gave me the wings to explore, to branch out, to be all that I can be. I 
found a purpose for my own life. I believe that, in a nutshell, an 
Atenean education is an experience of transcendence – transcending 
perceived limits, labels and stereotypes, narrow-mindedness, class 
divisions, selfish ambitions, and self-preoccupation, in order to become 
a mature, well-rounded person in responsible relation with the 
community. Discovery, understanding, and growth – all of these are part 
and parcel of the continuous process of transcendence which does not 
stop now that we are graduating, but is instead Ateneo’s permanent 
legacy to us.

I do not regret coming to the Ateneo. All of us scholars, we are far 
from regretting it! We hope that you, as benefactors, do not regret the 
instrumental role you have played in giving us an education, and are 
willing to continue with your support. And as the graduating class, we 
pledge not to give you any reason to regret! Just as graces are not 
meant to be hoarded but are meant to be shared, so do we commit 
ourselves towards using our gift of education for the betterment of 
society, whatever our particular vocation may be. In short, we are 
guaranteeing returns on your investment! It is because of the 
benefactors’ example coupled with the Atenean legacy of transcendence 
that we are moved to go beyond ourselves and extend the graces we were 
honored to receive to future generations.

Once again, thank you to the benefactors and to the Ateneo for sharing 
your graces with us. Have a nice day!

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Merit Scholar's Response
Pablo Singzon II

If you’ve happened to read the poster near Xavier Hall carrying the 
names of this year’s Merit Scholars, you would know what the school’s 
official designation for Merit Scholars is. The Best of the Best. Now, 
in order to get an idea of what this means – to be the best of the best, 
one just needs to take a quick glance at the statistics. Every year, 
thousands of students across the country apply to the Ateneo, but just a 
little over a thousand manage to get in. Out of that thousand, only a 
handful are selected and awarded the Merit Scholarship. Three factors 
are considered in picking out the freshmen who will comprise the pool of 
Merit Scholars:  exemplary performance in the Ateneo Entrance Exam, 
their academic and non-academic endeavors in high school, and most 
importantly, their potential to excel even more in the future. It is not 
that hard to see that to be singled out as a Merit Scholar, even before 
on e steps into the Ateneo as an officially enrolled student, is already 
an honor in itself. At the very least, one will have to be in the top 3% 
of the freshman batch to be a Merit Scholar. This year, as a matter of 
fact, only 25 very fortunate students out of the 1,000 plus entrants 
were included in the select pool of Merit Scholars. 

Nevertheless, though numbers do not lie, they do not tell the entire 
story. While the term “merit” is quite apt  - there is no doubt, 
numerically speaking that Merit Scholars are the elite of the elite - it 
also has the tendency to be misleading precisely because one might be 
led to think that the Merit Scholarship is given as a mere remuneration 
for one’s achievements and abilities, as some sort of bargaining chip 
that the school matches against one’s personal capacities and 
capabilities. Let me offer an alternative point of view. Perhaps a more 
meaningful way to see the Merit Scholarship would be to understand it in 
terms of its gift-quality. To borrow a favorite term of one of my 
philosophy professors, carrying the distinction of Merit Scholar has 
really been an experience of having doors opened for me, right from the 
very start. One cannot help but feel gratitude for holding a Merit 
Scholarship, more p articularly for the people behind it, the people who 
are always willing to say whole-heartedly, “You first.” Studying in the 
Ateneo as a Merit Scholar has been, first and foremost, an experience of 
the overwhelming trust, patience and generosity of others in me. I was 
able to step onto campus due to the vote of confidence of other people, 
this same willingness of others to take a risk on my potential made 
possible many of the opportunities that presented themselves to me 
throughout my entire stay.

In this sense, to live up to the title of Merit Scholar is very 
daunting. The privilege of studying in a school of such caliber as the 
Ateneo for free – I’ve always thought that the Merit Scholarship just 
falls a little short of actually being paid to study in Ateneo – carries 
with it a lot of responsibilities, not the least of which is having to 
maintain an academic record befitting a Merit Scholar while engaging 
oneself in extra-curricular activities on the side. More than proving 
oneself as a Merit Scholar however, the more important task I think is 
to find a way to return the gift that has been given. The Ateneo 
education is an experience that only a select few will be fortunate 
enough to go through. Thus, to be exposed to the Ateneo Education for 
free, solely on the basis of merit, is to be blessed. The challenge then 
is for us to pass this gift on to others so that they may experience the 
same growth and formation that we have gone through in Ateneo. From the 
very beginning, doors have been opened wide for us, without question and 
with full trust. Now, it is our turn to do the same, regardless of where 
we may find ourselves in the future, to open doors for others and to 
joyfully say, “You first.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Benefactor’s Response
by Ms. Maria Teresa Colayco

“To everything, there is  a season, and a time
To every purpose under the heavens.”

A time to sing, a time to laugh, a time to dance….

My dear scholars,  for all intents and purposes, you may be deemed to 
have graduated today. This day is yours … it belongs to you.  It is a 
time for rejoicing.  You have just completed a major stage in your life, 
an achievement made possible through hard work, discipline, 
self-sacrifice, as well as the support and love of all who care for  
you.  You have every reason to celebrate.  But so have many of us:  all 
who have helped nurture your talents so that you could be on your way to 
becoming the person that God envisioned you to be.

If there is one thing that all of us here have in common, it is this…the 
belief in the value of a good Christian education, a Jesuit education, 
if you will, an education which seeks to develop the whole person, not 
simply his skills.  Because of this belief, so many have helped provide 
others with various opportunities for an Ateneo education. 

Education, however, is a lifelong task.  Earlier, I had referred to your 
having completed a stage in your life’s journey.  A major stage, true 
enough, but a stage, nonetheless.  Each of us, while we live, has an 
obligation to become as good as he or she can be.  Each of us is 
expected to try to bring to maturity the various gifts and talents that 
we have been blessed with. Only at the end of our sojourn here on earth 
shall our efforts come to an end and judgment rendered on how well we 
did or did not do. 

I shall not attempt to suggest what you should do in the coming days or 
years.  I am sure that you have had more than your share of good, 
practical advice.  However, I would like to add this reminder.  Try to 
keep in mind the countless many whose lives could benefit from your 
concern for them.  Think of those who could be inspired by your example, 
who would dare to reach out for the stars. 

Sharing one’s blessings, one’s self is to enhance another’s life.  
Ultimately, it will enhance the life of our country, as well.  The task 
is daunting.  Of this, I have no doubt.  But working together, it can be 
done.  This, I am sure, is what our benefactors have in mind.  For in 
this way, the sharing of grace is unending and the blessings themselves, 
boundless.

I would like to close with some lines borrowed from an old Irish 
benediction: 

“May the road rise up to meet you,
            May the wind be always at your back,
          May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And May God hold you in the hollow of His hand”
  As you journey onward to the promised land. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Closing Remarks
Fr. Nemy S. Que, S.J.

          Good Afternoon.

          This annual gathering of graduating scholars and their 
benefactors is an affair that I look forward to every year. I consider 
it the best part of my job because I know that, once again, we were able 
to help.

          I can only echo our Valedictorian’s bountiful and sincere 
“thank you.”  Thank you for being with us today. Thank you for your 
continued support of the Scholarship Program. Thank you for caring and 
providing for our scholars. Thank you for giving them the best gift 
anyone could ever received – not the highly esteemed and valued Ateneo 
education, that is a great gift no doubt – but the faith in people’s 
kindness through which we all somehow get a glimpse of God’s own 
gracious giving of Himself to us.

In her speech, Kendra likened your gift of education to grace that is 
not meant to be hoarded but shared. And so the gift of education also 
becomes a challenge for them to use this gift for the betterment of 
society. Your gift of Ateneo education fulfilled their hopes and dreams; 
may this challenge our graduating scholars to be the hope of their 
fellow Filipinos.

In today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer, I was struck by a whole page 
advertisement paid for by AMA Computer University. In bold and large 
print, it read: “We don’t really hold many homecomings since most of our 
graduates are not home.” This was followed by a list of the school’s 
graduates lucratively positioned in businesses abroad.

My dear scholars, this is the concrete challenge posed by the gift of 
education provided by your benefactors: Stay in the Philippines and be 
the hope of our beautiful country and people. Work here. We need you 
here. Stay home!

          To our dear benefactors, again “thank you.” We hope that you 
continue to support our scholarship program. Our program could not 
flourish without your help. And you can rest assured that the Loyola 
Schools’ commitment to the program will be just as persevering.

          May God continue to bless all of us and our work.

 

 

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