I HAD a change of heart. I ate my words in my previous column where I said gratitude was so hard in this University.

When I prepared my Address of Thanks for our graduation last March 28, I didn’t have a hard time thinking of who to thank and what to be thankful for. My problem was how to condense my immense gratitude to those people who have touched my heart and who have changed me for the past four years. The result was a more than 10-minute speech of honest and sincere salute to God, my alma mater, teachers, family and friends.

As I looked back at my four-year stay in this university, I realized that my college life was a blast. Yes, I had teachers and classmates whom I wished Dante would take along with him to inferno and leave there. Yes, I was irked off countless of times by inefficiencies in the school system and policies. Yes, I didn’t get to participate in most school activities and attend most of the street parties. But really, I had a lot of fun and I couldn’t imagine myself being in some other university.

It is because I appreciate the school’s commitment to scholarship and values; perhaps because those remarkable teachers who have instilled in me discipline and love for learning compensate for the mediocrity of some; perhaps because my fond memories of the school surpass the few not-so-beautiful experiences. Maybe, I was honed and molded in this school to be a competent individual who knows how to question wrongdoings and decadence, to tolerate the forgivable, to change what needs to be changed and to always look at the brighter side of things.

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I’m glad I’m slowly becoming a true Thomasian.

***

I had only one dream when I first stepped in this university—to touch that age-old cross at the Main Building tower. I know of some people who have climbed that tower already but I was not fortunate enough to get a chance.

As I was contemplating where I was going to pursue further studies, I had stricken UST out of my prospective schools because I wanted to get a feel of a new environment. But after the very heartwarming send-off of the graduates during the baccalaureate, I felt the deep bond that I have with UST—I felt that I really belong here and I would be happy to stay here a little longer.

Loyalty and gratitude are not easy words to forget in this university. I’m so grateful that I’ve studied here, especially now, that I might stay here a little longer and get enough time to think of how I can touch that cross.

***

One of the reasons why my life in UST was very rewarding and fulfilling was the “butterflies.” No, not the colorful insect that you see, it’s what we call our group—a name that dates back to 1999. If there was an award for the Best Barkada of the Year, I certainly think that we’ll win. Among us, four graduated with honors, six were scholars, three were top leaders of their organization, and two were extraordinary kikays who can juggle academics with their “gimmicks.”

Fleur, Kria, Raizel, Mhel, Jho, Gladz, and Sharlyn, you are among the kindest persons that I’ve met. Congratulations and I’m so proud of you.

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