Graduation day brings a roller coaster mix of feelings both for the graduates and the parents. It is a celebration of a golden harvest reaped after years of hard work.

Tzu Chi-Bohol celebrates the success of 80 graduate scholars for the Academic Year 2018- 2019. These graduates came from different private and state colleges and universities around the province.

Of the 80 graduates, seven (7) of them were awarded with academic distinctions as “cum laude”. Cum laude is the third level of the special levels of achievements in a person’s study in a college or university. Being on top of the class of over 700 graduating students is a rare feat for any aspiring honor graduates.

The seven graduate scholars who received academic citations were: Vicente Lofranco Jr. from University of Bohol (UB), Kristel Mae Masin and Realyn Cajelo from Bohol Island State University(BISU) -Clarin Campus, Allen Mae Labita(BISU-Bilar), Rizalyn Malalis form Holy Name University(HNU) , Fevilyn Villorejo (BISU)-Calape, and Anthonette Dapar from Philippine Maritime Institute(PMI).

These outstanding scholars had proved that success truly comes to those who weathered the adversities of life with courage and determination.  Among them was Fevilyn Villorejo. Fevilyn lived in the rural town of Candungao, San Isidro, Bohol.  She grew up in a family with an income that is only enough to support their basic necessities. Her father, Felix, Jr. works as a farmer, while her mother, Vicenta, is a housemaid. Together, they earn Php 4, 000 a month. With her parents’ small income, sending her to college was a huge struggle. But through the Tzu Chi scholarship, Fevilyn’s dream to pursue a college degree was made possible. She graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (BEED) from Bohol Island State University (BISU) – Calape Campus. Her parents couldn’t contain their joy upon seeing her graduate with academic award.

“Our happiness is beyond words now that we see her graduate. She repaid all our sacrifices by achieving our dreams for her. We hope that she can find a job someday and help us send her younger brother to school,” Vicenta says.

Fevilyn recalled all the challenges that she went through in pursuing her dreams to graduate. One of which was her constant asthma attack which was triggered by her daily long trek in going to school.  Fevilyn had to walk 2.5 kilometers every day just to reach her school. After school, she had to help her mother with the house chores.

She also credited her success with the values that she learned in the humanity class which served as her guide to be a better person.

“Thank you Tzu Chi Foundation not only for supporting my studies but also for molding me into a better person. One of the things that I learned from our monthly humanity class was filial piety. I appreciated the efforts of my parents in raising me to become a responsible person even though we are poor, “expressed Fevilyn.

“Right now, I wanted to focus on my review for the coming Board Examination for Teachers. Hopefully, I will become a licensed teacher someday,” she added.

Another outstanding graduate who joined the roll of successful scholars was Anthonette Dapar. She graduated Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration from Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) Tagbilaran City. Aside from her academic citation as “Cum Laude”, she received 7 Academic Excellence and Leadership awards from school and other award giving bodies.

He father Antonio, who solely raised her and her three siblings, was overjoyed to see the fruit of his hard labor—Anthonette’s success.

“I am grateful that Anthonette finally graduated from college, with flying colors.  I am happy that she is responsible daughter; she brought so much honor and pride to me. I am also grateful to Tzu Chi for supporting her education,” Antonio said.

“I’m getting older, hopefully she can find a job someday, and help me in sending her younger siblings to college, “Antonio added.

Growing up without a mother figure was hard for Anthonette. She and her younger siblings grew up in poverty with her father supporting them. Now that she graduated, she can’t wait to give a comfortable life to her loving family.

“There are plenty of things going on my mind recently. I am currently applying for a job so I can help my father. I am planning to work and review for the Board exam at the same time. I knew its tough, but God and my family are always behind to support me, Anthonette said.

Indeed, the graduates offered their success to their parents, teachers, and the Tzu Chi Foundation and its volunteers for helping them achieve their dreams. Certainly, there are bumps ahead that they need to get through, but they are equipped with the right values that they need to surpass all the challenges in life.