Sanz Russel S. Zarate, Visually Impaired, Cum Laude AY 2018-2019

Kalayaan College gave me great and memorable experiences as a student. The professors are intelligent and efficient at teaching. The students have various interests and excel at different things. Overall, my stay in Kalayaan made me drown in a whirlpool of mixed emotions. There are times I feel happy because I got to see my friends and understood the lesson in class. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed because I can’t understand the complicated concepts presented in the discussion. There are occasions where I felt upset because I just don’t see the point of going to class and finishing my degree anymore. Despite the thoughts that come to me about getting a job as an undergraduate giving up my studies to get a head start, I still went to class anyway. I know that these thoughts are possibilities but they are just thoughts and are not real. If they were real and had happened, I probably would have a hard time looking for a job. Not only that I am an undergraduate, but also I cannot walk on the streets on my own. It was a good thing I listened to the people around me. With their help and advice, I was able to get here. I strongly believe that the lessons from school don’t teach a person everything. The classroom can offer a lot to a student who is willing to learn. But it doesn’t teach a student how to have a strong will to achieve his goals and dreams. Although it can teach the student the nature and properties of an object, explain the complexities of an idea, and elaborate the rules and the power of language, it does not tell a student how to reach his goals, how to be motivated, how to stay happy, how to persevere, and how to overcome challenges.

These qualities can only be learned through direct experience and advice from people who has these experiences. I have a cousin who told me something important. At that time, I still believed that studying literature will teach a person how to write better. I almost didn’t want to continue studying until he told me this. “You said you are studying literature for almost two years. Are you sure you have learned everything you need to know in that short time alone?” This made me realize that I should give the course a second chance. It might surprise me after all. I might learn something interesting and it is too early to say where the course is heading. In my last year, I felt the pressure of taking thesis. It is like climbing a huge wall which seems impossible. During these times, I thought of taking it another time or just giving up altogether. Then my mom would tell me to finish what I started. She would tell me how she became a medical doctor hoping to motivate me to continue. I would listen to these words every time I complained. She didn’t get tired of repeating herself. All along I knew she was right. But there was a part of me that refused to fully accept what I know. I would force myself to go to school for a battle was constantly being fought inside of me. The best motivation I had that made me go to school more willingly were my friends. They made me happy and made the school days bearable. For others, studying and finishing a degree is an ordinary thing and is not a big deal. But for someone whose studies has gone on for too long, it would seem that it is just an inconsequential task and a waste of time. Does it guarantee a job for the graduate? No it doesn’t. So why exert the extra effort to get a degree? My mom told me that a degree opens up opportunities. It opens doors for the newly graduate. With this, I realized that a graduate has a huge advantage over an undergraduate. A degree is like a ticket to a vast number of jobs which means, there is a slim chance of a graduate to be unemployed given that he is open to all kinds of jobs, even those outside of his field. This answer is a satisfying one. So I got up and continued working on my thesis. My hard work paid off and I was able to submit it to my thesis adviser.

In my stay in Kalayaan, I learned a lot. To make friends, one must have a bit of courage to walk up to a person and say hi and everything will go naturally. I am lucky that there are people who became my friends. I am happy to have good friends. They make moments important and memorable. The greatest lesson I learned was from my literature professors. They relate their lessons to the realities right now and they teach their student how to be more understanding and human. Their lessons have a common theme, life. I may not be that good in theories of literature but I do know that literature is about life. It takes patience to finish reading a book, one needs to think and understand to analyze. But a person must open his heart to feel and empathize with the characters which enhances his analysis and criticism even more. Our professors taught us how to be more human and how to see every work of fiction as part of reality. Now I am here. I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people. My parents, my family, my friends, my professors, and the school have helped me. I thank all of them. I am grateful for the honor that I received. But I am also afraid of it. An honor is a sign of brilliance and intelligence. But it is also an instrument of power which can corrupt and drastically change a person for the worse. It makes a person arrogant. I prefer to think of it as a bonus for graduating. The important thing here is that all of us are now finally graduates. Lastly I would like to thank God for giving us the intelligence, determination, willpower and strength to get to this moment. We have all gone through the difficult obstacles and are now facing the road ahead that leads to an unknown future. We must always know that we are not alone.