Tarlac State University's first batch of graduates for the 35th Commencement Exercises recognized the lone magna cum laude graduate from the College of Education along with 296 graduates last January 26, 2024 at the TSU Gymnasium.
Shiela Esguerra, the magna cum laude from the Bachelor of Technology and Livelihood Education major in Industrial Arts, shared her struggles as a shifter while managing to pursue her dream and make her parents proud.
"There were nights that I contemplated before if I am still making my parents proud for the choice and decision that I have made. There were moments where I would think that my parents have been disappointed with me," Esguerra said in her valedictory address.
"These turning points will make us better; this will make us realize that something might not be for us and that something else is in store for us according to God's plan," Esguerra further said.
Another COED graduate from BSED Social Studies is Tanya Ramos Balintay, 26, from the Aeta-Sambal tribe of Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas town. She is the first Aeta graduate in their family and sitio.
When the pandemic hit the country, Balintay did not stop studying despite the challenges she faced because of the sudden shift of the university to online learning. She received a second-hand but trusty laptop from one of her professors, Prof. Douglas Ferrer, who was one of those professors who supported and cheered her on to success.
Balintay said her elementary and high school teachers inspired her to pursue an education degree because she witnessed how they persevered to teach in their remote place.
"Na-inspire po kami sa kanila; kahit na galing po sila sa malayong lugar pero nagtuturo sila. Kaunti lang po 'yung mga teachers namin doon, kaya naisip ko pong magturo din sa amin,” Balintay said in an interview.
The travel distance and lack of money kept her from graduating on time. However, her parents endeavored to support her education by juggling odd jobs like accepting laundry services so the young Aeta could hold on to her dreams of becoming a high school social studies teacher.
She plans to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) this year should a scholarship grant come by chance that could help fund her review expenses.
Atty. Lindley D.C. Santillan, the commencement speaker, focused his speech on two points – making choices and striking a balance.
"Now, once you make these choices, you put yourself in motion just like what I said earlier (striking a balance). If you put yourself into motion, this is where you will be able to strike a balance in your life because, this time around, you know what is black and what is white and perhaps even gray in between," Atty. Santillan said.
"Because if you focus on what you love, the focus is no longer on the struggle; the focus is on the goal itself that will keep you going on what you love to do," Atty. Santillan added.
Atty. Santillan is a member of the TSU Board of Regents, representing. Sen. Chiz Escudero, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education
Meanwhile, the graduates attended the baccalaureate services last January 25, also at the TSU Gymnasium, with a holy mass presided by Rev. Fr. Jason Aguilar, Our Lady of Peace College Seminary Rector, followed by an ecumenical prayer.
Dr. Danilo N. Oficiar, Vice President for Student Affairs and Services at Tarlac Agricultural University, was the guest speaker during the second part of the baccalaureate services.
"May the Lord continue to be with you as you forget the past and move forward to what is right," Dr. Oficiar said in his message to the graduates.
The 297 graduates of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs are from the College of Criminal Justice Education (67), College of Education (75), College of Public Administration and Governance (27), College of Business and Accountancy (52), College of Computer Studies (25), College of Science (14), College of Architecture and Fine Arts (4), College of Engineering and Technology (33). (jlmm-OPA)