Wednesday, Jul 17

Scholars Graduation

June 09, 2019 | Anna Geronimo

Scholars register for the ceremony, first thing in the morning. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

Story Highlights

  • On the 9th of June, on a Sunday, The Tzu Chi foundation hosted the 2019 Scholar’s Graduation and Awards ceremony. Hosted by the energetic Nancy Tan, the event started after registration that happened at 7:00-8:00 am.

 

On the 9th of June, on a Sunday, The Tzu Chi foundation hosted the 2019 Scholar’s Graduation and Awards ceremony. Hosted by the energetic Nancy Tan, the event started after registration that happened at 7:00-8:00 am.

The ceremony started with much gusto and cheer and introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Bernardita Navarro.

Dr. Navarro talked about perseverance of the spirit. She tells us after the ceremony, “I heard somebody said during the sharing that one day I want to be the one helping Tzu Chi. In my opinion, it’s solid proof that we’ve planted the seeds of love that the Master is saying; For them at this young age, they are already thinking of what good they can do in the near future for those who are needy. We respect all our countrymen so whatever religious belief we can help, we just help. We relieve them of their sufferings or misfortune so those during calamities help us and others too.  Master never chose or tells us which group to help. The Philippines is at a disaster belt; typhoon belt, fire belt, earthquake...we have all the calamities.  I think, in fact, we are number two already in the number of disasters. Climate change causes some of our island to have floods everywhere. That’s why they say we are one of the most vulnerable countries that will be affected by all these disasters. Those that you can help even if it is just a drop of help can make a dent and can go a long way”.

Then the ceremony starts in earnest. The Grade School children are the first to march and receive their diplomas, then the Middle School, then High School. One of the scholars, Jessica Pantajo was chosen to give a speech and she narrates to the audience how her family came from nothing but with work and perseverance she got where she is. She later tells us, “It was my Auntie that told me that I could apply for a Tzu Chi Scholarship. I was really happy I got a chance to become a scholar. When I grow up, I want to become a teacher”

Jewel Jane Abella, this year’s valedictorian also gave a very rousing speech about seizing opportunities. She then jokingly tells us, “We first found out about Tzu Chi when I was in 4th grade. We didn’t have any idea who or what Tzu Chi was. They just came knocking at our door then my dad came down shirtless.  He had no idea who it was and then Tzu Chi introduced themselves. They told us they were giving a sack of rice to us as a reward for my achievement during that year. So my parents gradually found out what is Tzu Chi’s purpose. My parents volunteered for at least five more years before I became a Tzu Chi scholar. I really feel overwhelmed that after all the hardships, I’m finally here. New hardships will happen but that’s alright; I shall savour the moment for now.” Her teary-eyed parents both joined her on stage and celebrated her joy with her and shared their experience as Tzu Chi volunteers.

After presentations of the sign language interpretations of songs, the last thing that happens are the Tzu Chi volunteers going on stage and present all the scholars their certificates and give them big hugs.

  • Diplomas are neatly stacked on a table. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Jewel Jane Abella, this year's valedictorian, smiling and laughing with her peers. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • The proud parents in the audience. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • One of the honor students, Jessica Pantajo delivers her speech. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • TIMA Dr. Bernardita Navarro gives her rousing speech. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Volunteer poses with the Tzu Chi Scholars. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Jewel Jane Abella, with her parents who are Tzu Chi volunteers. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Tearful Scholars hug equally tearful volunteers after they receive their certificates. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】