Finishing The Race

As an undergraduate, there have been numerous times when I ranted to myself (and to my friends, to some orgmates, to a couple of acquaintances, to my laptop screen), “GUSTO KO NA GRUMADUATE!!!” Unlike freshman and sophomore years where my class schedules consisted mostly of general electives that I could easily pass without giving much effort (NOTE: There was effort! I wasn’t a total pasaway…), engineering majors started to take over come junior year. Truth be told, my struggle actually started during the second semester of my second year in college. It was too heavy for me that I lost my scholarship for the following semester because of it! Failing, automatically adding one year to my length of stay in college (subject was “seasonal”), and losing my scholarship was a triple-combo blow. My first set of batchmates eventually left me to have their grad pictures taken and to march with those Sablays on.

The next time I set foot in our department, I was mistaken for a transferee. Coming back from a(n) LOA, I had a new set of faces to get familiar with. Fast-forward to the end of that schoolyear, I bid farewell to another batch. Two of my classmates became professors, one of which became mine. It was funny, weird, and sad all at the same time. Funny because I never thought they’d teach, weird because I used to be classmates with them and that I had to address them as ‘Sir’, and sad because I was still in college.

I found a shallow type of consolation in the fact that my tuition was still at 300 Php per unit (around 6-8k Php per semester compared to their 15k+ Php) and that I looked young enough to blend with whatever batch I was with.

As the semesters went by, I felt more and more inadequate. I was dismissed from my department two times. I was tempted to shift out a couple of times even when it was so late in the game, but then I told myself not to be such a weakling — I’ve come so far to give up now. My efforts would be put to waste if I just gave in to the challenges that were being thwarted towards me. I appealed, pride set aside, and by grace got readmitted both times.

I wanted this degree even if everyone I knew and had classes with were way younger than me (I blended well anyway, hihi). I was doing this for me, not them. I wanted to prove to myself, more than anyone else, that I could do it. That no, I wasn’t weak, I wasn’t slow, it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart enough…

But I’ll admit I was distracted. Dance took over majority of my college life. In retrospect, I used it as an outlet when I had a hard time academically because it gave me back the confidence that I was still good at something. I had an entire phase when ‘dancer’ came before ‘student’, and those two dismissal cases shook me up real good like a Boggle container. That double scare reminded me that I was a student first and foremost. Sometimes — no, most of the time — the threat of losing something puts your priorities back into place.

And now, where am I? Well, I’m at the end of this collegiate journey. My professors have released our grades and I am officially done! … Unless you define “officially” as submission of grades to our university website, marching during our recognition rites, and/or receiving our diplomas. But yes, I’M DONE!

UP has taught me so many things: from strategizing which jeepney route to take when in a hurry to get to class, to learning the best cramming methods, to knowing how to get along with your professors and how to get on their good side, to adapting to different group work dynamics. There are a lot of little (and big) life lessons that I want to share and be all witty about, but the most important lesson UP taught me that needs no clever way of putting it into words is that there is always hope.

I used to rant, “GUSTO KO NA GRUMADUATE!”, but now, it’s “GA-GRADUATE NA AKO!”

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KATHLEEN GRACE GUERRERO JOVEN
2006 – 18693
BS COMPUTER SCIENCE
DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES – DILIMAN

I may not have finished with the highest of grades, latin honors, or any special awards. I may not have finished “on time”… But I finished. I finished my own race and I am so damn proud of myself for crossing the finish line! My graduation may have been delayed a couple of years, but I am not a failure. I’m not a failure because I didn’t give up.

CONGRATULATIONS TO US, BATCH 2013!

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3 responses to “Finishing The Race

  1. I believed on you. Everything in your life has come full circle. Enjoy life, give to the needy, and above all….be always humble…in all your ways.

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