“Greatness comes not when things always go smooth for you, but when you are tested; for only if you have been into the deepest valleys can you know how significant it is to be on the highest mountains.”

–Anonymous

ALMOST four years ago, I thought of committing suicide.

Perhaps my problem then was petty, but for me, failing to be admitted to my dream university was a big deal. Since I belonged to my high school batch’s cream of the crop, I was expected to pursue college in the country’s premier state university where I could be a scholar.

Given the high cost of tertiary education, I thought of studying in the University of the Philippines in Diliman as my only way of obtaining a degree without compromising quality education. My father, a civil engineer, died when I was in my junior year. My mother runs our humble convenience store and six-door apartment-for-lease. Although we are only two children in the family, my parents never got the chance to invest in pre-need educational plans so cold cash ready is usually hard to come by enrollment time.

So I really dreaded the day I would receive the notice of denied admission from UP. Given our financial problems, I did not know how my mother could send me to a university other than my dream school. Although I took admission tests in other top universities, the admission they offered didn’t really matter to me because I could not afford their high tuition rates.

True enough, I cried a river when I read the letter informing me that I did not pass the grade. I was not instinctively suicidal but the thought that I could no longer attend school terribly dismayed me. For months, I found it hard to relate to my peers, thinking they would see my problem too shallow. I rarely spoke with my mother, thinking I could only cause her additional burden, so I preferred to be alone.

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I was helpless. I thought no one really understood the pain I was going through. Moving to college was the only graduation present I was asking for.

One night as I was contemplating my situation, I wrote a letter to my late father. I cannot exactly remember what I wrote but I recall asking him for an apology. Because of my failure, I thought I could no longer keep the promise I made the day before he died—the promise to graduate in college with honors and to send my younger brother to school.

The next evening, I found myself atop our roof—ready to end my misery. But just as I was about to cut my wrist, my mother appeared shortly and yelled at me. Ironically though, I only found her calmer than ever when we spoke.

It turned out that she was observing my behavior since the day I received the notice. She likewise caught me writing the letter the other night and got curious of what it was so she surreptitiously read it. She said that she was moved by my efforts to keep the promises I made, but said ending my life would not end the misery we were.

“God has his reasons for letting these things happen. He knows exactly what is best for us,” my mother kept on repeating.

And true enough, it was not the end of the road yet for me. God indeed had a better plan for me. My mother exhausted all means so I could enroll at UST. Since my mother’s income was not enough to defray my schooling expenses, I applied for a San Lorenzo Ruiz scholarship.

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Being a working scholar taught me priceless lessons I know I could not learn in class. Dealing with a lot of people of different personalities and juggling academic with work-related loads are just two of the numerous trainings I gained at work. Being a working scholar made me value hard work and time management earlier than most of my peers.

Apart from the scholarship, I was also blessed to be part of the Varsitarian. Although the organization gave me a trying venue to improve my writing skills, it was a worthwhile training because it helped me improve not only as a writer but as a leader.

But most of all, I value the kind of training the University has given me. My Thomasian education made me deal with every hardship while putting God at the center of my life. Without Him, I surely would not have endured this far.

Looking back, I would terribly regret losing the chance to be a Thomasian had I succeeded in ending my life back then. And now that my graduation is approaching, I am simply grateful to march as a scholar of the University that has been generous and supportive of me and my endeavors.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am truly sorry for once doubting Your plans. Immature as I was, I would like to thank You for making me grow just in time to realize that You have better plans for me. I could not have endured life’s problems without the strength, wisdom, and courage You give me. May You continue to guide and inspire me to live life according to Your will. Amen.

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