Summer Graduation Address

Summer Graduation Address

By: Dr. Betsy Joy Bustamante-Tan
| Former Acting President

Dr. Betsy Joy Bustamante Tan, Former Acting President 

(Message delivered during the 9th Summer Graduation held May 20, 2018 at the Silliman University Church. Dr. Tan concluded her term as Acting President on May 31, 2018.)

On this, the 9th Summer Graduation of Silliman University, let me first share with you these words of wisdom on greatness, responsibility, and accountability from Chief Executive Officer Sandra Gaddy of the Women’s Resource Center in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.

CEO Gaddy begins with this remarkable reminder from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she said, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve”.

Members of the Silliman University Board of Trustees present, Vice Chairperson Judge Candelario V. Gonzales, Corporate Secretary Atty. Grace A. Sumalpong, University pastor, Rev. Dr. Noriel Capulong, Church administrator, Prof. Carlos Magtolis Jr., and Silliman Alumni Association Incorporated (SAAI) Vice President, Roberto D. Montebon, esteemed members of the Dean’s conference; parents and many significant others in the lives of each of our graduates; my colleagues among Silliman University’s faculty and staff; fellow Sillimanians all . . . good afternoon!

For all of us, it is important to remember that ‘the price of greatness is responsibility.’

But specially for each graduate today, such reminder is significant . . . not only because you are responsible to ‘serve’ . . . but more so because today, you just do not leave the university, get a job, and make a lot of money . . . for the diploma you will receive today is a ticket – your ticket ‘to serve’ and be a part of the world.

Today then is a new beginning for each graduate . . . in a world where many people seek to become famous or to be seen – as evidenced by what we see every day on reality TV shows or via social media.

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., CEO Gaddy continues: “Not everyone can be famous; but everyone can be great – because greatness is built on service . . . and after four years of college studies, your tomorrow is now; your someday is already here, today!”

To the members of this 9th Summer Graduation at Silliman University, each one of you then is destined for greatness!”

Never forget too, that Jesus came to serve others – and not to be served. So let us begin your greatness tomorrow in this commencement today . . . by reflecting on some words of our Lord from Romans 12:9-13, “Life in God’s Service”:

This is Love in Action.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another – among family, friends, and colleagues – in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal; but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

To each graduate, let us also always bear in mind our Silliman Song – especially those lines that say: “When we leave the halls of Silliman/Roam the world o’er near and far/Still the faith and truth she gave us/Will remain our guiding star . . . “

What then does the world expect of the Silliman graduate?

But first, congratulations parents and many significant others! Silliman University’s 9th Summer Graduation is also a tribute to all of you . . . for all the love and sacrifices, all the hopes and prayers for this day to come . . . and see the fulfilment of your dreams – the college education you all wished for. . . for your children . . . as they embark on their careers; . . . as they spread their wings into the world of work in today’s Knowledge Society.

To the graduates, all the best as each graduation moment unfolds for you today – a graduation etched into memory by the prophet Joel when he said in 2:28 that “. . . this is the”Day of the Lord”.

. . Afterward I will pour out my spirit on everyone; your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions.

In the many graduation moments that unfold for you today, your parents continue with their dreams for you . . . as each graduate now creates a better vision of your individual dreams.

Congratulations graduates for today is not only your graduation; it is your commencement – the beginning of your future . . . for as what American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt shared in one of her most memorable thoughts, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

In this 9th Summer Graduation Ceremony, the beauty of each of your dreams has been realized! Today, the vision you saw of yourself before Silliman University is now not only realized but also affirmed as you wear the symbolic academic gown and soon transfer the tassel of your academic discipline in recognition of your new professional status.

How has Silliman University prepared and trained you for your professional journey?

As drafted by the Deans Conference on November 10, 2014 and approved by our Board of Trustees on January 10, 2015, the Silliman graduate is first and foremost, a creative critical thinker who is a problem-solver with a reflective sense of consciousness and curiosity of the world around him – perceiving the world as it is and not what he wants it to be.

Trained in such intellectual setting, how should the Silliman graduate help to affirm the beauty of our country . . . which has suffered a brain drain for many years now through a government program delicately labelled as OFWs . . . or those who leave their families behind to find jobs elsewhere – while creating dysfunctional families in each of their homes? When the headline announced recently that the Philippines have just received the lowest OFW remittances in fifteen years, what other problems are created?

In governance, what is the role of jobs generation? You must have already noted that in school, we study Politics as a science. In practice however, Politics takes on a life of its own as an art.

Second, the SIlliman University graduate is a transformative Christian witness who lives out the University’s motto of VIA, VERITAS, VITA – The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The Silliman graduate then leads an exemplary lifestyle while curving a service career with compassion – rightfully distinguishing the difference between what is good from what is bad . . . with an intuitive appreciation of the rightness and wrongness of things.

The SIlliman graduate then does not only make every day the Lord’s Day; but also picks up the dreams of their parents and many other significant models they have identified in their lives.

To every Silliman graduate then, society always expects that God’s justice and love for others assume gentility and elegance that approximates what is divine and spiritual. Alongside that image of the Silliman graduate comes to mind Psalm 111:10 that says: The way to become wise is to have reverence for the Lord; He gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever.

The Silliman University graduate is also an independent reflective life-long learner who does not only value all forms of learning while always striving for excellence – by keeping himself updated . . . where personal abilities and skills converge with professional knowledge and qualifications for better service. In such regard, the Silliman graduate makes every day the day of the Lord – in a career visualized as one where serving his fellowmen is also serving the Lord!

Finally, the Silliman graduate is an effective communicator who knows how to listen attentively and empathetically; who demonstrates ethical and moral standards of communication devoid of arrogance – respecting the opinion of others that maybe contrary to one’s own.

Born into the Knowledge Society, each graduate today then is expected to use such knowledge wisely and well . . . where there is accountability with each responsibility; where each day for the Lord is both responsibility and accountability. Today is also the day when the belief you had for the beauty of your dreams for your future becomes real in the present, in the here and now, right here at Silliman University Church – on this University campus that started out more than a century ago as an industrial arts school for boys . . . which shows that every Silliman graduate has also been trained for industry and hard work; for building the character of man – a basic trait of every Sillimanian.

After today then, how do you make your Silliman education work for you?  There is always the reminder from the Prophet Joel in 2:28 – that today is the day of the Lord . . . where the Lord pours out His spirit on everyone; where the young fulfil the beauty of their dreams . . . and your elders continue their dreams for each one of you.

Today, I am also reminded of my own elders, my brothers, and my only sister . . . who enveloped me in their love and care through sacrifices they had to make from Guihulngan to Dumaguete – just so I could avail of a Silliman University education . . . from high school to post graduate school.  Together with each graduate in this our 9th Summer graduation, I then march with you for my own graduation from Silliman University a few days from now.

As we then bow out of our favorite haunts on this campus, let us all be thankful that we had an education on F I R E, Faith in Instruction, Research, and Extension . . . designed within the Five Cs of our training in the church, the communities, the classrooms, the athletics courts – all to mold us in the character essential of every Sillimanian who has passed the portals of the University.

With character building etched into our destiny because of Silliman University, “To our love for dear old Silliman, loyal shall we forever be.”

Today, you have just achieved the beauty of your dreams. Today has also been an affirmation of those dreams.

As you confront the realities of life, continue believing in God’s wisdom; trusting in God’s counsel and resting in His love.

Congratulations, graduates!