We take one step after the other to go forward. Gravity keeps us faithfully rooted to our world while the energy coursing through our bodies propels us on. The day someone graduates is a day we all stand in place for a moment to admire how far they’ve come, how far they’ve climbed up the mountain. Full of exciting, harrowing, and downright life-changing times, the road of obtaining an education is a priceless and invaluable journey. It takes gumption. It takes determination. It takes every effort of mind, body, and soul to truly learn and keep at it. On July 31st of 2021, our graduating Class of 2021 smiled with pride at this momentous occasion of earning their degrees.

Despite going virtual due to the pandemic, the ceremony persisted in being a beautiful one to honor its graduates. Dennis M. Layug, a senior advisor in the Department of Agriculture, articulated on the success of everyone’s hard work. From kindergarten to earning a BA, it takes approximately 21,000 hours to get to where our Class of 2021 stepped forth on Saturday. It’s only fitting how popular superheroes are these days because we get to find superheroes every day of the week if we look closely enough. So many of our graduates completed their programs of education while facing countless obstacles, from poverty to family emergencies to natural disasters, it’s incredible how far they’ve come. The 21st century is not only the time for superheroes on screen but in real life just around the corner. The “super” in superheroes is seen in our graduates who published innovative research, constructed elaborate designs, solved complex problems, and supported each other through thick and thin with exceptional communication and collaboration skills.

Each superhero of a graduate went up the greyhound decorated steps to receive their diplomas. In the background glowed the lush fountain and vegetation everyone at FU is familiar with. How many times did our graduates pass along this place of lively community and growth? From the fish deep within to the floral canopy above, one look at this rejuvenating pool can restore anyone’s nerves into place. Its picturesque setting served as a magnificent forecast of what is to come to our FU graduates as they embark on to the next chapter of their lives. And it’s not a celebration until there’s singing! The exquisite commencement had wonderful acapella remixes of Shakira’s “Try That” and The Chainsmokers’ “Something Just Like This” paired with the stunning and serene smiles of its contented graduates.

Irish Blanca Rabong presented an uplifting speech of hope and gratitude to bring the graduation ceremony full circle, serving as the valedictorian of the Class of 2021. She expressed the hardships she had overcome over the course of an 11 year mission to complete her education and become a teacher. During her second year, she took a long hiatus in order to work abroad and earn a living; however, she sorely missed the Philippines and after some time, returned home. The longing to become a teacher was far too great, which spurred her return to Foundation University. Ms. Rabong earned her degree in the College of Education and aspires to teach high school students general science. She intends to remain within the Foundation community by taking a position at Foundation Preparatory Academy if possible. Her favorite memory at Foundation University was her experience in student teaching, demonstrating the depth with which she wanted to become an instructor. She exclaimed, “This is me! I am a teacher now, one step closer.” After graduation, she celebrated in a simple fashion with her family, classmates, and advisors. Ms. Rabong said what she’ll miss most about being a student at FU is the ambiance of campus and its inspiring, supportive teachers, especially those within the CE and CAS departments. Above all though, she is incredibly grateful to FU for the opportunities it provided, for molding her into the woman that she is today, and for honing her skills in education. Because of FU, she is much closer to getting her dream job and building a brighter future.

There isn’t a set amount of steps to graduate, to become a superhero, to building a brighter future. Instead, it is a process – it’s a matter of how you get there – and it’s different for everyone. Every graduate this year had their own journey to receiving their diplomas, and the entire FU community came together to honor them in the best way: through praise, song, and applause. It is without a doubt we can expect fantastic things from the Class of 2021 as they set out to make the world a better place.