by Ivan Christopher Cordevilla
Salutatorian, Class 2018
National Finalist, Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” – Harriet Tubman
When I attended my first graduation rites at the end of my preschool years, I asked my parents why my classmates have medals and why I didn’t receive any of those shiny gold sparkly medals. They replied that in order to have one of those medals, a student should do well in class. Starting that day I always tried to do my best in class but it seemed too hard to achieve so I gave up and just remained as an ordinary student throughout my academic life in elementary and high school.
As a student during my basic education years, I was very devoted to the arts and youth programs in the community. I could truly say that early on, community work is already something that I adore. I was never that devoted in academics back then but I tried. Though it never seemed a match for me. I was not the typical achiever. I could never forget that my only participation during the graduation rites in elementary and high school was the intermission number.
When I entered college at Foundation University, I only had a sliver of self-esteem left in me. In fact, I only had a handful of fear and anxiousness with me. This mentality I had quickly faded away as I spent months inside the University due to very encouraging and inspiring mentors. My mentors made me feel that in college, everybody begins with a blank canvass and all are given equal opportunities to shine.
Starting from that moment, I was able to face the ordeals and challenges I experienced in college with a strong mind and a “never say die” mindset. I felt unstoppable and that dreamer in had a rebirth. Then, I wasn’t able to notice that I was slowly achieving my goals. But it was short-lived happiness, the emptiness took over. There was that deep realization that I was just feeding my ego. At that moment, I was looking for a purpose and answers to many questions.
I tried to realign myself by doing community work and it paved the way to definitely to answer a lot of questions. The projects and programs we did in our organization made me realize that the purpose on why few people seek excellence it’s because they want to help and become an inspiration to others.
Understanding the idea inspired me not just to improve myself but also to check on other people or matters in the community that needed more attention. The realization inspired and empowered me to help others in my own little way.
Finding my purpose purpose made me seek excellence even more. The grit was there but now its grit with a purpose to better the community and not only myself. The achievements I was able to gain, starting that day, made sense and was even more meaningful. Representing Foundation University in various competitions, conferences, summits, and other development stints became a more meaningful experience because participating in these things meant “hitting two birds with one stone” – one was to enrich myself and other one is to grab the opportunity for me to share what I learned to others.
Standing on a very grand stage during my college graduation and receiving four medals plus seeing my parents and the people who honed and believed in me witness that occasion was already a moment of gold that I would cherish forever.
Months after, I was chosen to become part of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) – Region 7 as regional finalist and eventually became one of the awardees in the search. But entering TOSP in that time was so hard for me because I lost a loved one very near to my heart, my grandmother. I chose to miss the burial because I know that she would tell me not to miss that opportunity. I poured all my best in my panel interview for my grandmother and keeping in my mind the answer to the questions lingering since my childhood days.
In my life’s journey, I can only say that no one can tell a person of his/her limits because the limitations only depends on our very self and it is only our very self who can tell of those personal dreams we’ve brought since our younger days. No matter how hard one would need to fight to reach those dreams, it’s up to the self on how to win the battles but it is important to always bear in mind that battles without a purpose will always feel like an irrelevant win.
The dreamer in me will never die for it makes my existence an adventure one for the books.