Dark clouds, wet roads, a time-to-time rain shower, and peddlers of graduation leis outside the venue greeted the morning of the full face-to-face 48th Commencement Exercise of Surigao del Norte State University — Mainit Campus. But the gloomy weather did not stop the warm smiles of the graduates and the radiant and proud faces of the parents, who come from different parts of Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte.

In the first part of the program, there was the thanksgiving mass that solemnized the Tubod Gymnasium. Proud parents stand behind their graduating students as they pin the hood that symbolizes that their sleepless nights and hard working days are now paying them back.

After the mass, everybody was sent outside for the processional march. First were the 103 graduates of the Bachelor of Agricultural Technology (BAT), followed by the 84 graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Agro-Forestry (BSAF), and the last that came in a few but distinct numbers of graduating students were the 47 Bachelor of Technology and Livelihood Education (BTLED) students majoring in Agri-Fishery Arts. With all their best looks, the parents of the graduating students stand side by side with their sons and daughters as they walk the green carpet that will lead them to the next chapter of their lives.

The National Anthem was sung, signaling that the graduation rites had finally started. Mrs. Jeanette Ebarsabal then put the key on the envelop, making the gesture that everything—the papers, the list of graduates—are now ready for recognition and acceptance, and so it followed. As graduates were presented by Campus Director, Mr. Edwin Escobal, MSF, they rose and excitedly held the tassel of the cap. It was the task of the university President to confirm and accept the graduates, which was ably represented by the Vice President of the SNSU Administration. Clapping and tear-wet eyes filled the room, and the smell of diplomas was getting stronger.

As the graduates retreated to their seats, Dr. Gregorio Z. Gamboa, Jr., SUC President III, introduced virtually the first resource speaker, CHED Commissioner Hon. Jo Mark M. Libre gave his congratulations and wishful message to the 2023 graduates and was later given a virtual honor and recognition. As a member of the SNSU Board of Regents, another virtual message from a popular political figure, Hon. Francis Joseph G. Escudero, whose congratulatory message started with Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios poem and ended up in a message taken from the poem of Gat Jose Rizal’s to the Filipino Youth.

Then, a commencement speaker was introduced, and so Dr. Romana M. Maglinte gave an introduction as a former colleague. Dr. Caezar Joventino M. Tado, once a faculty member of the then Surigao del Norte College of Agricultural Technology, is a former member of the Department of Agriculture and now works for the Professional Regulations Commission. His long introduction was his powerful and inspiring journey to become the person he is today and how he is as an engineer, a father, and a teacher. He also highlighted that the country needs agriculturists to continue the stable supply of food, as he channeled the declining statistics of young farmers, encouraging not just the mindset of the graduates but the parents as well.

And so, when Dr. Tado was done with his message, the distribution of the diploma began. Suddenly, the silent space has been filled with the flashing of phone cameras and clapping, and all you can hear are the footsteps of the graduates making their way to the flatform to receive the price they have been waiting for four (4) long years. Even some ROTC officers notably couldn’t pocket their smiles as they saw their seniors succeed with flying colors.

The distribution of diplomas was then followed by the recognition of the distinct graduates who made it through with Latin honors. First was Ms. Lovely Joanne Palasan, a student with immense talent and perseverance, followed by Ms. Rollygene Talip, a woman who is a leader of the household and a loving wife, who proved to the audience that financial stability is not a hindrance to finishing a tertiary education as long as one is determined. Accompanied by their parents on stage, the two Cum Laude received the price for working so hard for years. Ms. Merlina Galicia, the former SNSU FSSG President, is the busy bee that looks after her fellow SNSUans from all parts of Surigao del Norte. As recognition for her untiring efforts, she was given a gold medal for her great leadership skills, as was her Vice President, Ms. Chezzah Jane Villlamon. The last to make it to the cut as a special awardee was the sole bronze awardee of the Journalism Award in recognition of her 3 years of journalistic service in the Horn Publication. Reyna Morales climbed last on stage as she received her token of recognition together with her parents.

Ms. Lovely Joanne C. Palasan, Cum Laude, gave a valedictory and inspirational speech that recognized the hard work of her fellow graduates just to get the ever-elusive diploma. Then, the former President Galicia spearheaded the Pledge of Loyalty, followed by the induction of graduates into the SNSU — Mainit Campus Alumni Association by Mr. Arman N. Bermon, the Alumni Association President.

As the graduation rites were almost over, the graduates sang the song “This is Not Goodbye” to their fellow graduates to remember that even though they parted a thousand miles away, their home will forever be the SNSU – Mainit Campus. As their tribute to the parents for their support throughout the journey ever since they were young, the graduates faced their parents and sang “Awit ng Anak sa Magulang”. The atmosphere became heavily emotional. The shaking singing voice, runny nose, and teary eyes of the parents overwhelmingly filled the Tubod Gymnasium, an evident gesture of pure joy and pride for such an achievement. Lastly, the students sang the SNSU hymn for the last time. As the registrar designate, Mrs. Jeanette Ebarsabal, went again to the podium to declare the end of the graduation rites, the graduates happily exited the venue on the green carpet that will lead them to the world of reality.

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