“I open at the close.”

This was the engraved message on the Golden Snitch that Dumbledore gave Harry Potter. The snitch contained the third and final Deathly Hollow: the Resurrection Stone. It meant that Harry would only be able to open the snitch if he realized the consequence of fulfilling his mission—he needed to die to destroy Voldemort.

For several years, my King has given me challenges—rather, failures —to make me fit for this testimonial. The time came when I realized I was ready to face any trial. I “opened at the close.”

I am Dennis Novales Mendoza, a Thomasian civil engineer of Batch 2009. In college, I was depressed. The depression was evident; classmates and even professors noticed it. Some professors even tried to discourage me from taking the licensure exam, but they let me make my own decision.

I tested luck on my first take of the civil engineering board exams in May 2009. During my preparations, I knew there was a big chance I would fail. On those darkest days of my life, no one dared help me; at least, I never saw that help was at hand. It was really hard to help a person who couldn’t help himself.

I had a very rigid, although hasty preparation, but I failed my first take.

Instead of losing hope, the May 2009 board exams became a challenge to make myself better and to recover from the memories that had poisoned my will. I kept on thinking that I had many other blessings in life which I must be thankful for.

I acknowledged God for all small things received. Every morning when I woke up, I thanked Him. I returned every single smile to the people I met. I grabbed every chance to be grateful to the people around me.

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I considered every blessing as a miracle during those months, but the greatest miracle I was hoping for was getting my civil engineering license.

The pain of failing triggered my depression. However, I did not let it get into my senses without a good fight. Though it was hard, I tried to achieve my ultimate goal.

After a few months, I signed up for the November 2009 board exams. My goal was not just to pass, but to become a topnotcher. I did not just pray for myself, but for all those who had been “delayed” like me. I believed that nothing was impossible. However, I failed the board exams twice in a row.

I had to postpone my next attempt and worked as a property manager of two subdivisions in Pasig. It took time before I finally decided to try for another exam.

I was not able to attend any of the tutorials provided by the school , nor refresher classes for my third, and hopefully, final take.

My November 2010 board was just another ordinary two-day examination. It was like sitting on a quiz back in my college days. I surrendered everything to the Lord. I promised Him that once I pass the board exams, I would go back to UST and share my story to the Thomasian community.

I did not memorize formulas for my designs, foundations, and Hydraulics subjects. I came to the examination venue with an empty head, but I was equipped with faith.

As I waited for the results of the November 2010 board examinations, the memory of failing twice in a row in 2009 bothered me. Some days after the exam, the long list of passers was released. I scanned the names of passers whose surnames started with “M” until I read from the list: “1308 Mendoza, Dennis Novales.”

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Everything in college life, including my failures and successes, flashed back in my mind.

My effort to inspire people to never quit made me think of ways to reach out. I kept coming back and telling my story to younger batches of Thomasians taking chemical engineering. I kept telling my story to those reviewing for other board exams, including aspiring seamen, nurses, accountants, physical therapists, pharmacists, and engineers of different fields.

To you who have read this, kindly help me inspire those who have given up. They must not give up on the opportunity of finally achieving their dreams.

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