The UP Rural High School (UPRHS) held its Virtual Commencement Exercises on Aug. 27, the first during the pandemic, to graduate not only Class 2021 (4th batch) but also Class 2020 (3rd batch).
A total of 124 students of Class 2020 and 125 of Class 2021 graduated in two virtual graduation ceremonies held one after another. The graduates were led by class valedictorians, Mary Elizabeth De Guzman and Alexandra Hendrich Marco, respectively.
In her valedictory speech, De Guzman highlighted that her class rose to the occasion “despite seeing the failure of the system that was supposed to run our country.”
She mentioned that UP Rural High School taught them to refuse to stay down “by taking leadership positions in their organizations and student councils, starting fundraisers to aid those in need because of the pandemic, and by continuing to excel in their respective schools” despite the various challenges. The members of Class 2020 had, by now, completed their freshman year in college.
On the other hand, Marco mentioned that as what “Mutyang Rural” says, the wisdom that is always free for everyone that it has taught its graduates should not be taken as a gift, but should be taken as a responsibility to uphold the virtue of (our) education and knowledge to respond to the needs of the society. “Mutyang Rural” is the UPRHS school hymn. She said that now that they have the wisdom and learnings from UPRHS, it is high time to share it to others, as well.
Among the distinguished guests during the virtual ceremonies were the commencement speakers, Dr. Felino Lansigan, a member of the UPRHS Golden Jubilarian class & former dean of the UPLB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and Dr. Virginia Nazarea, director of Ethnoecology and Biodiversity Laboratory of the University of Georgia.
Dr. Lansigan asked the graduates, “whatever professional careers you may pursue later, please always remember in your young mind that you are Ruralites. Please help contribute to improving the quality of life in your respective communities especially during this time of uncertainty.”
Nazarea honored the teachers who shaped them and she encouraged the graduates to do the same. She further mentioned to the graduates to be like their teachers and to give inspiration and encouragement every chance that they get.
Notable UPRHS alumni also gave special messages to the graduates.
Dr. Aimee Lyn B. Dupo, UP Faculty Regent and a faculty member at the Institute of Biological Sciences of UPLB CAS.
Dr. Dupo compared learning during a disruption (such as the pandemic) to how a spider casts its first silken thread by seeking an anchor on which the web can be built on. This, according to her, is their family who supported them from the very beginning while the rest of the web are the “ties you build around you such as your peers and teachers.”
She also said that while UPRHS has prepared them for the VUCA world referring to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that prevails in the world now, it has also equipped them with VUCA tools, meaning vision, understanding, clarity, and agility.” She encouraged the graduates to use these tools well.
“This is the time to make a difference, your time to explore and bring forth the change that you want to see in this world.” This is the encouragement that Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese gave to the graduates as he urged them to contribute to generating new knowledge to address the various issues and challenges society is facing now amidst uncertainty.
He admonished the graduates that with the challenge comes a new opportunity to explore new paths, carve out new niches, become pioneers, and go boldly where no Ruralite has gone before.
Dr. Sese is himself a pioneer. He is an astrophysicist, space educator, and policy space expert who championed space science and helped craft the Philippine Space Act and create the Philippine Space Agency.