THE THOMASIAN graduate who obtained the highest honors this school year likened the challenges a student faces to sandstorms “that keep on changing directions and chasing you.”

UST valedictorian Eric Royd Talavera, a Medical Technology graduate from the Faculty of Pharmacy, challenged his fellow Thomasians to look at these “sandstorms” as opportunities for them to achieve their dreams.

“For the past four years of my stay here in UST, experiencing a tumultuous magnitude of sandstorms all throughout, I can proudly say that I have indeed come out a different and better person,” Talavera said during the Student Awards Day last March 18 at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium.

However, Talavera said that to become a better individual is not an “overnight transformation,” calling to mind the famous Socratic aphorism.

“To change and to become someone better entails one important fundamental factor that ironically many have yet to come to terms with: to know one’s self,” he said.

He also expressed his gratitude to UST for the wisdom and values “that will empower us to become worthy citizens in this modern society.”

“As we pass through the portals of this University, in our minds (there is) a very important question: ‘what does the future hold?’ No one can predict what’s in store for us, but we, the graduates of Batch 2009, will definitely have a place in these challenging times,” Talavera said before a sea of student awardees.

Talavera earned a general weighted average of 1.16, the highest among the 16 Rector’s Academic Award recipients from UST’s 16 colleges and faculties. The award is given to students who have shown consistent academic excellence in their respective fields of study.

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Five student organizations received the St. Dominic De Guzman Award for their “outstanding performance in organizing activities that are of significance to the entire Thomasian community.”

They are the Student Organizations’ Coordinating Council, Marian Evangelization Community, the Physical Therapy and Sports Science Societies under the College of Rehabilitation Sciences; and Artistang Artlets of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Four Varsitarian staff members received the Benavides Outstanding Achievement Award for winning in national competitions during the school year.

Varsitarian photographer Paul Allyson Quiambao and artist Alexa Remalante were awarded for being grand champions of the Art Petron Photography Contest last August.

Juanito Alipio de la Rosa, Circle writer, earned the award for landing first place in a quiz contest during the national congress of the United Architects of the Philippines Student Auxiliary in Cebu City.

Circle editor Emil Karlo de la Cruz took the Benavides plum for winning first prize in the On-the-Spot Essay Writing Contest sponsored by the Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines, Inc. last Nov. 25.

The award is a tribute to the pioneering spirit of the founder of the University, Miguel de Benavides. It is “conferred on students whose performance in regional, national, or international competitions and congresses symbolizes the University’s commitment to excellence.”

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