A BS Food Technology student graduated summa cum laude during the University of the Philippines Mindanao’s 24th Commencement Exercises held on Tuesday morning, 19 July, at its campus in Mintal. Klarisse Cruzado is UPMin’s second summa cum laude from the BS Food Technology program. She scored a cumulative weighted average grade of 1.0612, the highest record in UP Mindanao, topping the previous summa cum laude.
Three years earlier, Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, who was from the same program, was UPMin’s first summa cum laude.
With these achievements, Cruzado shared the pressures and expectations they entail. Amid a global pandemic, Cruzado said the biggest challenge was the loss of boundaries, routines, and privacy as she was studying her courses. The pressure from expectations also affected her greatly.
“If I focus too much on those expectations and try to mold myself into what others think of me, mapapagod lang ako,” she said.
She talked about her struggles with online classes, including deadlines, unstable internet connectivity, and the blurring of boundaries between school work and domestic situations. These contributed to the anxiety she was already experiencing. Fortunately, she was able to overcome these struggles with the support of her friends and family, by remembering her motivations, and by staying disciplined.
Cruzado also shared some ways she was able to survive her academic journey, such as establishing a routine.
“There are things that I can’t follow on the dot. But it helped that there were a lot of things that I followed as a routine. I didn’t need to overthink,” she said.
Apart from sticking to a routine, she also pursued various hobbies as a way to take a break from the pressures of school. More importantly, she emphasized that taking care of her well-being by praying, taking walks, and having movie nights helped her balance her time well.
In her valedictory address during the 24th Commencement Exercises, Klarisse mentioned the importance of being surrounded by people who support and encourage her. She reminded people to continue sharing this support and encouragement with others, saying, “Through our hearts, we can also extend that same benevolence to others, especially those in need.”
Despite the conflicting feelings about graduating and worrying about the next step in her life, Klarisse recounted four major lessons she cherishes.
“You are not alone,” she stated, saying that people go through the same struggles and experiences and are present to encourage and motivate her.
She emphasized the importance of character and how this is more important than accomplishments. She added that the exhilarating joy of achievements is only temporary while a person’s character will remain the same.
“The people we encounter will remember our kindness, compassion, and generosity,” Klarisse emphasized.
Klarisse mentioned the significance of focusing on one’s self and finding who they are instead of listening to other people’s expectations and standards. “May we remind ourselves that we are a work in progress,” she added.
Regardless of the difficulties one may face, Klarisse urged all to take one step at a time, as this will help individuals eventually reach their goals and find their purpose.
“Truly, the future is uncertain, and some of us might never feel like we are ready, but the lessons we learned, the relationships that we made, and the growth that we experienced throughout those years are very real,” said Cruzado.
In UP Mindanao, Cruzado was able to balance her academics with her extracurricular activities. She served as an active member of the Philippine Association of Food Technologists (PAFT)-Lambda Chapter, UP Dance Ensemble, and The Smuggled Ones (SMUGS) and even assumed leadership roles.