I was a half-millimeter away from having the title of cum laude. While I was feeling sad about it, pointing fingers at who to reproach and thinking about where I lacked, a sudden realization smacked my face.
I almost forgot about the bigger picture that I finally graduated. I finished a college degree nearly a hundred percent all by myself for four straight years without any financial support from my father. It registered to my mind that I maintained my good grades and kept up with other academic scholars while struggling as a university varsity member.
As part of the well-renowned UB Cardinals, I won’t forget the days when we were not spared from our daily early morning and evening rigorous trainings even during examination days. Since it was really hard for me to juggle my basketball trainings and my academic responsibilities, I even had to read my notes amid joggings and during stairs workouts. There were even countless times that I become physically and mentally drained to show up to my classes. But because of my perseverance and determination, I worked to meet the challenges. I am driven by my desire to walk on a stage wearing a toga and to eventually make my parents proud.
It did not matter anymore if I did not graduate as a cum laude as long as I surpassed the numerous struggles that came my way. There were moments when I got too stingy because I forced myself to save for other necessities plus, I didn’t want to worry about the coming days and weeks for something to fill my belly. I might have envied some of my friends and teammates for having things I couldn’t hardly have, but I’m thankful I focused on my goals and endured those junctures of college life.
Regardless of not being part of the lineup of graduates with Latin honors, I realized that I am now a degree holder despite the pandemic being the culprit behind my 50 percent scholarship cut. Incentives and other scholarly benefits were also affected, so I had to be creative and take the initiative to look for a job and enter different businesses for extra income while sustaining what was left of my academic scholarship.
So, to my fellow dreamers, keep on going even if there are things that impede your goals. It’s all right to mourn into something you’d work for nights and days. It’s acceptable to feel down about something you think you deserve, but could not get. It’s also okay to feel like giving up. However, remember that you started out full of hope, full of optimism and commitment. Accept that life is full of crap, and remember to just constantly deal with it. Life is naturally problematic, yet the answers are around you. It’s up to you to discover the best solution.
Most importantly, grab whatever chance you get to study because not all students are fortunate enough to finish a degree. And once you have that opportunity, remember to be responsible. Adding that extra push and managing your time well can take you to places. Surround yourself with people who will support and force you to reach your potential. And, of course, always believe that you can.
This is only the beginning of the journey. We have a lot of more things to do. There are many more challenges and struggles ahead of us, but it also means we can make our ambitions come true. Keep fighting!
Mark Joseph L. Romero was born on October 29, 1999 in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. He recently completed his degree, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Baguio and received an Honorable Mention and Athletic Award in Basketball. He plans to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.