By Michael Aaron Gomez

The Ateneo de Davao University held its annual college Commencement Exercises at the Martin Hall gymnasium, Jacinto Campus, last Saturday, 7 April 2018. Also included in the graduation ceremony were the conferral of the annual University Awards to their respective recipients, as well as the conferral of the Student Awards. Eminent astrophysicist Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, of the Ateneo de Manila University, also graced the event as this year’s commencement speaker.

A total of 1,700 graduates from the University’s colleges, schools, and programs received their diplomas at the ceremony. Dr. Reyes advised them in her commencement address to savor the moment, to allow themselves to feel pride in their scholastic achievements, but nevertheless to keep a strong balance between their pride and a sincere gratefulness to all those who have helped them get where they are. Moreover, to maximize their professional skills, Dr. Reyes said, the graduates have to apply deliberate focus over a long period of time.

This year’s roster of graduates also included the famous section of Accountancy graduates, numbering forty-four in all, who finished cum laude. Jerona Krystel R. Boston, BSED English, was hailed as the batch Valedictorian; and Erick Jan S. Sagot, BS Accountancy, was the batch Salutatorian. Rounding out the Student Awardees are 2018 Jesuit Mission Awardee Camille A. Casas (BS Industrial Engineering) and the 2018 Leadership Awardee Neil Joseph L. Esperanza (BS Industrial Engineering).

A number of students also received School Awards. From the School of Arts Sciences, there were Maria Pamela Q. Ravasco (BS Information Technology); Lyd Ejira C. Ducusin (AB Mass Communication); and Janine Chanelle S. Fuñe (BS Environmental Science). Representing the School of Business and Governance were Thea Marie B. Factor (BS Accountancy) and Raul Diego L. Borromeo (BS Marketing). The School of Nursing also gave its award to Yves Angelo M. Espino, while the School of Education gave its award to the batch Valedictorian, Ms. Boston.

The University Awards were presented at the ceremony to three distinguished recipients. Receiving the Fr. Theodore Daigler Award for Mindanao Culture and Arts is esteemed Davao poet, visual artist, and independent publisher Ms. Tita Lacambra-Ayala, whose work on the iconic Road Map series has helped earn her the honor. The Drs. Jess and Trining de la Paz Award was given to Talikala, Inc., a non-government and non-profit organization based in Davao City that has spent decades helping sexually exploited women and girls break free from prostitution. Finally, the Archbishop Clovis Thibault Award was presented to the Missionaries of Charity in Davao City, a congregation that has also worked for decades feeding the hungry, nourishing the sick, and sheltering the abandoned and the dying at the margins of the city.

Capping off the ceremony was the debut of the new version of the Blue Knight Song, the school hymn, performed by the Ateneo de Davao University Chorale, with the new musical arrangement made by Assistant to the President for Music Fr. Carlos G. Cenzon, Jr., S.J., Ph.D. This new version slowed down the pace of the original, and added sounds and melodies from native instruments to establish itself as a song from and for Mindanao.

The 2018 Ateneo de Davao University Commencement Exercises is the 54th of the College of Law; 48th of the College of Arts and Sciences; 18th of the School of Business and Governance; 12th of the School of Nursing; 8th of the School of Engineering and Architecture; and 6th of the School of Education. The University’s Graduate Programs and the College of Law will hold their separate graduation ceremony on 28 April 2018.

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