Reimagined Graduation: Empowering Enderun’s Redefined Higher Education
Every college student looks forward to marching up the stage and claiming their symbolic diploma or so it was the dream until the onset of a global pandemic led institutions to have a different approach.
Last December 12, Enderun Colleges hosted its first Virtual Conferral of Diplomas for its college graduates. The digitalized ceremony did not call for a completely reinvented wheel. Providing the ambiance of in-person commencement rites, the school delivered the graduation caps and hoods at the doorsteps of the graduates. The organizers were able to retain most of the elements of a traditional graduation.
Precious Pauline Pajarellano, the Class Salutatorian, shared her touching personal story during the welcoming remarks. Relating her battle with ailment to her fellow graduates’ college journey, Ms. Pajarellano asserted, “It has been a rough road for most of us but we are coming out of it stronger, wiser, [and] ready to tackle the next road of our lives.”
Ms. Divine Barcelona, the Manager of the Office of Student Life, presented the various student area awards to the graduates who demonstrated outstanding initiative and involvement in the area of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. These laudable alumni are as follows:
- Tsina Joyce Ong and Neil Arveen Serrano (Culinaire)
- Seth Kemuel Ravanzo (Enderun Entrepreneurs Society)
- Mehetable Jamina Magpantay (Enderun Food & Wine Society)
- Bella Angela Del Rio and Eleni Chelsea Abcede (Student Government)
- Michael Louis De La Cruz, Fayth Celine Pumaren, and Jaimie Coleen Tiu (Athletics)
John Santeo Tamayo, the Enderun Leadership Award recipient, provided a recap on how tumultuous the turn of events had been in 2020. Taking a jab at the romanticized resilience narrative, he insisted on genuine solutions. Mr. Tamayo emphasized, “The selfless service of all, including the young people, is of the essence.” He urged each graduate to utilize the knowledge and skillset of their respective undergraduate degree program to make invaluable contributions to the rehabilitation and recovery of society.
True to the virtual setup, Mr. Rey Moraga, the 2012 Enderun Leadership Award recipient and multi-awarded hotelier, delivered his commencement speech from Raffles Hotel in Cambodia. As graduates often ponder on life beyond the four walls of the classroom, he narrated his humble beginnings with a reassuring tone. He admitted that he did not start with a full-time job as the hotel he first worked at was not yet open. There were evenings he had to walk from work to where he lived. He added in jest, “My parents had the brilliant idea of cutting my credit card, which was obviously, a supplementary account.” Yet, he was grateful as such taught him well to stand on his feet. Eventually, he would climb the ladder as his success story has been retold time and again. Mr. Moraga imparted, “In life, there is never any shortcut to success, but hard work paired with desire, dedication, and determination to achieve will move you forward.”
During the presentation of candidates for graduation, the program heads took the opportunity to wish the graduates well and hope that both the former and the latter will cross paths again. Dr. Christine Demen Mejer, the Managing Director of Les Roches, Ms. Elise Masurel, the Managing Director of Ecole Ducasse, and Dr. Park Seung Woo, the Park Chung Hee Saemaul Undong Institute Director of the Yeungnam University, likewise gave uplifting messages.
In contrast to marching up the stage, the conferral of degrees became more personalized as each graduate was recognized through the flashing of their formal graduation photos, creative shots, and awards on the videoconference screen.
Dr. Edgardo Rodriguez, the President of the Enderun Colleges, issued the final charge. He called on the graduates to “be the disruptors” in their chosen careers. Citing the changes brought about by the pandemic, he encouraged them to think critically and even perhaps, question tradition. As he acknowledged the parents, the Enderun management, faculty, and staff, Dr. Rodriguez noted, “Keep Enderun in your heart and interests. Always let the Enderun spirit propel you forward. Remember, we love you and we will be here for you whenever you need us.”
Josephine Marie De Luzurriaga delivered the valedictory address. Reminiscing her path to Class Valedictorian, she reiterated a key takeaway from her parents, “It isn’t about what happens inside the classroom but what happens outside.” She felt enthusiastic in the hope of seeing the Class of 2020 become the “peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers.” Possibly taking a cue from the emerging “cancel culture”, Ms. De Luzurriaga remarked, “Love is not cancelled. Purpose is not cancelled. Growth is not cancelled, and hope is not cancelled.”
The program wrapped up with Ms. Gaby Serquina, the Manager of the Office of Career Services, and Ms. Hannah Sabrina Pira, a proud Enderun alumna, leading the induction of the graduates to the Enderun Alumni Association.
Seemingly in the style of an afterparty, the heartwarming video presentations from various student organizations and several faculty members astonished the alumni. Certainly, more than revisiting these throwback photos and listening to their professors’ endearing words, the Enderun experience will be etched in the graduates’ memories.
The Class of 2020 expresses their appreciation for having been the pioneering batch to have a Virtual Conferral of Diplomas. Making it more elating, the virtual occasion serves as a prelude to the in-person Commencement Exercises later on. To have two ceremonies celebrating the milestone of college graduation – this may now be a college student’s reimagined vision.