“The year 2020 is the year that will forever be remembered as the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a daunting challenge to say the least. This is where the UP education comes into play.”
So spoke UP Regent and UP Los Baños (UPLB) alumnus Francis C. Laurel, entrepreneur and member of the third generation of the esteemed Laurel clan, in his address to the UP Los Baños Class of 2020 who marched, figuratively, in UPLB’s first-ever virtual commencement exercises. The 48th UPLB Commencement Exercises was held online on August 15, livestreamed via the UPLB YouTube channel.
Regent Laurel went on to give the graduates five pointers on how they can succeed out in the real world. The first is to stay positive all the time, to remain optimistic and focused, to capture the moment, and to be committed. The second is to think out of the box. “This pandemic has brought a myriad of opportunities never thought of before. As UP graduates, you are best prepared to undertake this challenge,” said Regent Laurel, stressing that for UP graduates to succeed, they will need the “extra edge” of innovation and creativity.
The third is to always uphold integrity and honesty, to not lose sight of the forest for the trees, and “in whatever you do, to plan well and execute well”. Regent Laurel’s fourth tip is to work extremely hard, as the only way the new graduates can repay the sacrifices their parents made to help them finish a UP education is to have a successful career. Finally, “embrace the challenges and crises of your life”, tempering optimism with courage at all times.
“Graduating from the UPLB is a milestone,” Regent Laurel finished. “Be proud of it. And as you move on, always remember your roots. Bear in mind you are a part of the great tradition called the Los Baños spirit. It is as old as UP. It is a spirit truly unique to our beloved UPLB.”
The UPLB became the third UP constituent unit to hold its first ever virtual commencement exercises, during which the UPLB Class of 2020 officially became alumni of the University and the first batch to graduate in the time of pandemic. Of the 1,630 members of UPLB Class of 2020, nine graduated magna cum laude and 72 graduated cum laude.
Shantel Anne Nicole E. Chavez, BS Agricultural Economics, magna cum laude, was this year’s class valedictorian. In her message to her fellow UP graduates, she exhorted her fellow graduates to remember that “each of us has a story worth sharing” and to “let your stories be heard and to spark hope in our nation during these trying times. Let your stories inspire other UP students who are still fighting for their eventual graduation. Let your stories help in building a dream of a 10-year-old elementary student in your community. Let your stories encourage incoming and current college students to broaden the purpose of their professional dreams from just earning a decent income for their families to also serving our nation.”
UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez congratulated the new graduates for finishing their studies while facing the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought. He also addressed their worries about the future, especially as the world grapples with the largest health crisis of modern times.
“These times demand more from you, from all of us. In this pandemic, the work to find sustainable solutions for climate change, enviornmental management, the development of affordable and clean energy, food and nutrition security and safety, and promoting inclusive and just social policies does not and should never stop,” Chancellor Sanchez urged the graduates. “These are fields that you can take part in and contribute to. The crisis will require greater creativity, greater courage, flexibility and resilience. But have faith that the knowledge, dedication and strength of will that you have honed these past years as UPLB student, will serve you well.”
On his part, UP President Danilo L. Concepcion also emphasized that while the graduates venture forth into a world of unprecedented crisis, it is also a world of unprecedented opportunity to find new ways to serve the people.
“Ating tandaan ang panahon ng krisis ay hindi lamang isang masamang panaginip. Ito rin ay isang mabuting pagkakataon upang tayo ay lalong magpunyagi, magpakahusay, at makapaglingkod sa bayan. Isa-buhay natin ang diwa ng UP: ang pagkakaisa, ang paglilingkod ng buong husay at dangal. Patunayan natin na walang hangganan ang pag-aambag ng ating unibersidad at ng kanyang mga alumni sa paghahanap at paglalapat ng mag epektibong alternatibong at solusyon sa anuma ng suliranin [Let us remember that the time of crisis is not just a bad dream, but a good opportunity for us to further commit to honor, excellence and service to the country. Let us live up to the spirit of UP: the unity, the honor and excellence in service. Let us show that there are no limits to what our University and its alumni can offer in terms of generating effective alternatives and solutions to any problem],” UP President Concepcion said.