In a few minutes your graduation will end, and we will finally let you go. And before we let you go, may I, as your President, give you some more final words. Just two things.
First, I would like to say that you, the second pioneering graduates of Senior High School, you are commendable. I would like to commend you for your resilience. Resilience means being able to adapt, to adjust, and even to thrive in difficult and challenging situations. I believe that Senior High School was in many ways a difficult and challenging time. Do you agree with me? Why do I say so? You were in an “in-between” stage of growth. You were no longer the young guys of Junior High School, but you were still categorized as Basic Education, and thus, you were treated as still young, as “basic.” At the same time, you were also not yet the older guys of College, and hence you were not yet that free. There were still plenty of structures you had to live with. You were “in-between” being young and being young adult. And thus, it is not surprising that you probably found yourself confused, lost, unsettled, restless, awkward.
You had a lot of energy and drive, creativity and stamina; your hormones were raging; you probably fell in love and fell out of it; you probably misbehaved; you were most likely intense, perhaps wild in some aspects; yet you know that we expected you to be the opposite: obedient,
cooperative, disciplined, mature. Hence you were confused, lost, unsettled, restless, awkward. Yet, you survived it all. You managed to keep your heads above turbulent waters. You were resilient. You rose up to the demands of school. You succeeded. You are here. For this, we commend you, we congratulate you!
My second and last word is this. As you move toward college and adulthood, continue to dream on. As you move on, dream on. I asked some of you what your plans are for college, what are your next steps after graduation. More than half of those I met said: “I still don’t know, Father.”
“I still have not decided.” Was I surprised? Actually, I was not. I was not surprised because it is good that many of you are still dreaming, many of you are still making decisions on what you want for your future. And so I say, dream on. As you move on, dream on.
The Ateneo de Zamboanga University has taught you to listen to three types of dreams. First is your dream for yourself: who you want to be, what you want to do, who you want to be with. How do you see yourself years from now? Listen to your dreams for yourself. Do not be afraid, have faith in yourself!
The second are the dreams of others for you. Those who know you, those who love you, those who care for you – they have dreams for you too. Your parents, your loved ones, your teachers, your friends – they may see things you do not see; they may have hopes higher than your own; they may be more excited about your future. Listen to them, with respect, with reverence, with love.
The third is the dream of God for you. Whoever your God is, God is all powerful, all loving, all merciful. His dreams for you are all about goodness and love. Where is God calling you? Where is God leading you? Wherever it is, it is a good place, the best place you can possibly be. Listen
to God’s voice within you. Listen in silence. Listen with humility.
The Ateneo has also taught you that God inspires you to dream for a better world, a better Philippines, a better Mindanao, a better Zamboanga. Listen to these dreams of a world more humane, more safe, more progressive, more peaceful. Think about how you can play a role in making this happen, in making this vision a reality. Believe that you have a role to play, that you are called to do something for the common good, for society, for God and country, pro Deo et patria, in love and service.
When all these dreams and plans converge, there you will find happiness. There you will find your mission. Move on, dream on, with your God, with others. If you make mistakes and stumble along the way, continue to dream on. Dreams are free. Dreams will keep you alive and well. Dreams will get you going in your years after Senior High School, in your chosen profession, in college.
On behalf of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University community, to you our dear second pioneering graduates of the Ateneo Senior High School, congratulations! We are proud of you!