UST Luncheon for Benefactors and Scholars
“Go, grow, and glow the Thomasian way,” said Rev. Fr. Richard Ang O.P., as he bid the University of Santo Tomas (UST) scholar graduates farewell. It was a powerful closing speech during the annual testimonial luncheon for benefactors and scholar graduates, urging the latter to make a positive difference to society.
Held on June 14 at the UST Tan Yan Kee Student Centre, this year’s luncheon started with a Eucharistic celebration, a fitting way for the fresh grads to give gratitude to the Lord. Welcoming everyone was Assoc. Prof. Arlene Calara, PhD (Office for Student Affairs Director), who expressed her deep gratitude to the benefactors whose “generosity opened doors to the scholars.” She then introduced Thomasian alumna Atty. Arlene Maneja, who shared a great deal of her experiences which helped her learn personal truths, one of which being “The only way to deal with the pressure of success expectation is to discover and be comfortable with your own unique definition of what it means to be successful.” Her speech was definitely eye-opening for the graduates who are about to enter the real world.
One of the benefactors, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), in partnership with the Philippine S&T Development Foundation – Manila, Inc. (PhilDev), has been supporting scholars taking up Science and Engineering courses from UST and other schools since 2013. Raniella Coronado, a product of the Shell-PhilDev Scholarship programme, was given the opportunity to deliver a gratitude speech on behalf of the 49 UST externally funded scholar graduates this year.
Raniella took up Chemical Engineering and graduated Cum Laude. In her speech, she likened her college journey to the song Million Reasons by Lady Gaga – with the message, despite having a million reasons to walk away, there will always be one good reason to stay. And for Raniella, what made her stay was her dream. Her parents were not able to finish college, but managed to find decent jobs with relatively stable incomes: her mother as an office staff in their local church cooperative and her father as a school service driver. They both strived to give her a good life, especially a good education. “Upon growing up, my parents engrained in me the value of education. They always tell me, ‘You finishing college is enough to make us happy.’”, Raniella proudly shared. Looking back, she talked about her fear of having to stop studying because of financial reasons. However, that did not hold her back. Instead, she took that challenge positively. She studied hard enough to rank number 1 in her batch during her freshman year, earning her the Sto. Tomas Scholarship. Fearing she would not be able to maintain her academic standing, she looked for other scholarship programmes which were less demanding in terms of grades. Relying on hard work and faith, she found the Shell-PhilDev Scholarship. She then fondly shared her memories of being in the programme: “During our first meet and greet, I thought that this programme was too good to be true. It showered us not just financial but mental and emotional support. Through the annual leadership camp organized by Shell and PhilDev, we were able to know ourselves better and make friends we now treasure. Our personalities were honed and we were equipped with skills to be the better future for society. The Shell-PhilDev Scholarship programme improved many of my connections and opened many doors of opportunities.”
To date, 32 Shell-PhilDev scholars have graduated (2 Magna Cum Laude and 15 Cum Laude) while another 108 are presently enrolled.
By Rachael Nathanielsz
Article published on PSFI news magazine October 2017 issue