The following is the transcript of the Response on Behalf of the Graduates, delivered by Beatrice Ysabel G. Marquez (OCM, ’17) during the first day of the 178th Commencement Exercises held at the Philippine International Convention Center last February 24th:
“Thank you Ms. Amelia Galang, Dean of Student Affairs, for that introduction. President Brother Raymundo Suplido, FSC, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Chancellor, De La Salle brothers, Deans and Vice Deans of the departments, esteemed administrators, university fellows, faculty members, staff, dear parents, and of course, my fellow graduates, a pleasant morning to you all.
It is quite a miracle that I am standing in front of you here today. You see, I am not the best speaker in the world. In fact, one of my fears would actually be public speaking. Days leading to this moment, my hands would get clammy, my heart would start pounding, and I would spend sleepless nights overthinking, imagining that I would mess up. The same scenario happened as I had a panic attack the morning of my thesis defense, or as I felt sick minutes before a small group presentation in class. This–and more–is just a part of my Lasallian experience.
Entering college, I promised myself that my Lasallian experience would pave the way for my growth as an individual. I went through the usual phases one Lasallian may have the chance to go through, such as Happy Thursdays, being active in an organization, getting a 4.0 and failing several tests, being ignored by my crush, but also falling in love, and everything in between. I guess I had a pretty normal college life. However, with my insecurities, I was struggling to understand who I am, and what makes me so special. I asked myself, “How can I rise above the herd? How can I truly exemplify a Lasallian Millennial?”
Millennial is a label I’m sure we have heard so many times to describe our generation. We are the future–the misunderstood adolescents, the young adults, the working class (or soon-to-be), the go-getters, and currently, the largest living generation. During my stay in this university, I have been surrounded by thousands of millennials crawling their way through their academics, paving the way for this moment–the moment to conquer the real world. And contrary to the millions of reasons why millennials are indeed the future, there are still several misconceptions on who we are, what we do, and why we do what we do. Today, I want to debunk several myths of millennials, and from what I have observed, how we, as Lasallians, challenge its definition.
They say we are self-centered.
Some people describe millennials as the “ME” generation. In the age of smartphones and laptops, we are constantly immersed in social media applications that broadcast our lives. Dinner dates are confined in Instagram filters, family gatherings are turned into Facebook albums, and funny classroom jokes are translated into 180 characters or less. With the use of social media and all these technological platforms, we get to transform ourselves into what we think is “perfect” and “acceptable” to society. Although some moves we make may sound narcissistic, we also have the choice to use the technology to create valuable human connection. In a time where misogyny, racism, and prejudice are in full force, we use it to create a bigger picture–the social atmosphere of influence and awareness.
As Lasallians, we use these platforms to voice out opinions on public matters to create healthy political discourse, and to shed light on various social issues. The Lasallian value of Communion shows us how to be one with all those in need, and to be the voice of the unheard. In DLSU, we are given the space to give back and give ourselves. This is the beauty of the space given to us–we are given the space to choose to give. We have learned to not be self-centered–we center ourselves on things that matter.
They say we are lazy.
People constantly judge millennials based on standards on how it is to properly execute their work, without understanding how we see the world. I see us as a creative and innovative generation. With the use of technology today, we can invent things that we could have only dreamed of. We are content creators and users. We crave adventure. We seek to see the great unknown.
I see friends doing internships one after the other–going through 8 hours a day without pay. What we are after is experience; experience to mold us into our future selves. Going into college, I’m sure we all asked, “Is this the right path for me?” “Will this course lead me to the job that I want?” “Do I even know what I want?” Our unbeknownst future can illicit great fear, but it can also lead to determination and passion. It is the motivation of not knowing that gives us the will to push through to know. And, as Lasallians, we pushed through all our successes because of our immense faith. Faith that we will reach the target that our inner archer has shot. Faith that we will be able to be of inspiration to others. Faith that our future is in the right hands. Because of faith and determination, we have learned to not be lazy–we are achievers.
Lastly, they say we have a sense of entitlement.
Entitlement in a sense that we are asking and expecting too much because we believe we deserve it, even if in reality, we didn’t work our way to get it. While this may be the case in some aspects–and I will admit, this may have happened to me as well, we are much more than that. We expect because we work hard, and we dream big.
Expectations lead to disappointments, and in college, disappointments can come one after the other. Mistakes and failures hinder us from pursuing the end, even if the end is so close. As the song goes–almost is never enough. However, I know we have a fire in us that burns with passion. We have the passion to be involved in several extra-curricular activities, all the while excelling in our academics. We have the passion to go out of our comfort zones and explore new things, even it scares us. We have the passion to proudly show our zeal of service to fellow Lasallians, as well as to the less fortunate. We have the passion to bring forth a culture of determination and motivation to succeed. We have learned to not be entitled–we are dreamers.
In the end, they say some of these myths, and more, are to be blamed on the previous generations and how they brought us up; but truth be told, we would not be who we are today if not for our parents. So special mention to the ones who work hard just to pay our tuition, who wake up early to make us baon, who bring us to school, and who stay up late just to make sure we get home safe–thank you. To the ones who acknowledged our dreams, even after a few fights and arguments, thank you. To the ones who supported us every step of the way, for believing in us, and for letting us get this far, thank you. This is for you. You are the real MVPs of this journey. Let’s give them a deserving round of applause.
The past few years I’ve spent in La Salle not only molded me to be who I am today, but also enabled me to witness the growth that everyone here has experienced. The journey wasn’t easy, as seen in our battle scars–eyebags as proof of lack of sleep, zits here and there due to stress, or for some people, broken hearts due to college breakups. However, these marks should not be something to be ashamed of–they are something to be proud of, because they scream to the world that we did something. We did our best, and we did well, and we did all that we could to reach where we are today. And, as my fellow OrgCom graduates would say, we have made it to the beach house.
Fellow graduates, I challenge you to keep redefining millennials. Engage in altruistic behavior that focuses on advocating for the common good. Indulge yourself and be lazy once in a while–but work hard when it matters the most. Compete and thrive in success until you reach the top–but don’t forget the people who helped you along the way. Be the best version of you, and remind yourself that you are a Lasallian Achiever for God and Country.
You are a proud millennial, one who is ready to make a mark in the world and in society today. As I said, there are millions of reasons why millennials are the future–and it begins here, today, with you. Thank you and Animo La Salle!”