[Address to the ADDU HS Graduates of 2015]
During the Baccalaureate Mass earlier this morning, I challenged you with all of your youthful energy and enthusiasm to say yes to God’s will. As we have sung over and over again throughout your years at the ADDU, “To God’s high command, your hearts bow.” If he wills anything for you, he will convince you of what he wills as long as you are open to it. He will communicate to each of you personally, as long as you do not personally shut him out. His will, not anybody else’s, carries the secret to the meaning of your life and your happiness.
God convinces you of his will
He will convince you of what he wants you to do: either to go straight to work or to go on college. Most of you will go on to college. In a true sense, your class this year is historic. Yours is the last class that graduates after ten years of basic education and may proceed to college. Yours is the last class that according to standing Philippine educational law may be accepted into first year of collegiate programs without having first gone through Grades 11 and 12. For all of you who are here, ADDU has no doubt that you are qualified for college. You have been tried, and you have been tested. You have made the grade. ADDU certifies that with hard work you can make it to college and do well. The question is: do you want to go to college? Or is it just your parents who want you to go? Do you want to go to college where the burdens of learning are less on the teacher and more on you in academic freedom and responsibility. If you do not want to go, don’t go. If you want to go, decide to go. Then answer: why is it that you want to go to college? Are you going just because everyone else if going, or are you convinced that through four or five more years of rigorous studying and learning, you can grow as a person and so say yes to the call that is you?
For many of you the problem now is: which college? And at what cost? It is a problem which can be solved only by speaking with your parents or benefactors, and speaking with yourself deep within. Allow me however a number of remarks. Do not choose a college or university just because it’s free, or it’s cheap, or because someone is offering you a scholarship there. College costs you four to five years of precious formative years which can make or break your lives. Saving money on compromised education is the equivalent of wasting a lifetime. Also, do not choose a university or college just because it’s expensive. Flashy buildings and fancy facilities do not make a good university or college. What makes a good college or university is the quality of its academic community, its ability, first, to lead students beyond minimum standards to academic excellence measured in outstanding learning outcomes and competencies; second, the ability of the college or university to actualise its vision and mission into reality through quality instruction, research and service to the community to achieve what it envisions and to fulfil its mission; and third, the ability of the college or university to satisfy its stakeholders. These are the professional organizations of engineers, teachers, doctors, architects and the like, the employers and organisations of employers, the government recruitment officers, the NGOs, all of whom hunger for quality graduates; but a key stakeholder is also human society that expects from the higher educational institutions insight on the quality of human life, the imperatives of justice in a confusing world. Choose colleges or universities on the basis of accreditation by qualified accreditation agencies like PAASCU. Avoid schools and programs with no accreditation or avoid programs with withdrawn accreditation. But choose the college or university whose spirit and performance best resonates with your true economic realities and with your desires and sensitivities within.
What you study is not indifferent. Do not choose management engineering when you really want chemical engineering; do not choose law when your really want molecular biology. Do not choose a course because you are really choosing a school or choosing an athletics program. Do not choose an athletics occupation when you really want higher education. The course you choose is life determining. In making this choice, think of the poor, think of the peripheralized in Mindanao. Make your choice so that you can help fight poverty, not contribute to it, so that you can contribute to peace, not to contribute to violence and war. As I said in my homily, as the Jesuits focus on the poor in the peripheries, you can be a partner-in-mission also through the course you choose.
Words of Gratitude
Thank you for being part of the Ateneo de Davao High School. With you, I would like to thank your parents and benefactors. Without them, this happy day would not have been possible.
I would like to thank the faculty and staff for their instruction and hard work in bringing you to this day.
I wish also to thank two persons specially this year. When Fr. Principal Mike Pineda went to tertianship in the United States this year, we needed a steward leader for the high school. So we consulted the faculty and staff, and the recommendation was Dr. Nina Ingle. I appointed her, and through the joys and pains of this year I have been grateful that I did. I would like to thank all of you, students, faculty, staff and parents, for working with her. Dr. Ingle, thank you for your conscientious leadership of the High School this the past year!
Next year, Bro. Jeff Pioquinto goes to tertianship – the last year of rigorous spiritual formation in a Jesuit’s life before final vows. We would like to thank Bro. Jeff for his service at the ADDU HS over the past five years as a teacher, recently as an Asst. Principal for formation, as a consummate photographer, and as a friend especially to our high school students. We thank Bro. Jeff for his close personal interaction with faculty, staff and students. In many respects, he was the Jesuit presence in the High School in the recent past. Thank you, Bro. Jeff. All the best for your tertianship in Ireland. We pray the Provincial missions you back to ADDU when you are finished there.
Men and women, Knights in blue, for Christ King fight strong and true…!