Irish Blanca Rabong presented an uplifting speech of hope and gratitude to bring this year, bringing the graduation ceremony full circle by 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. Hailing from Mabinay, Negros Oriental, Irish is the eldest in a family of six. As many of us know, being the oldest comes with a great deal of responsibility, from babysitting to portraying role model behavior, it is quite an undertaking. Recent studies have shown that the eldest sibling may even have more of an influence on younger siblings than the parents! And Irish’s brothers and sisters are quite lucky to have such a brilliant and resilient sister to look up to; she set the bar high so that they too, could reach for a brighter future. Irish never gives up. She began her educational journey at Kabulakan Elementary School and continued to Benedicto Tirambulo Memorial High School. Knowing she wanted to become a teacher, she applied to several universities and chose FU because she was awarded a scholarship. A scholarship symbolizes faith in a student that they will excel in their ambitions because they already demonstrated exceptional fortitude in high school. It was an amazing start for Irish – a beautiful campus, a gracious welcome from the FU community, and heartfelt tour – she felt right at home for being valued. No other school had shown this degree of appreciation for its prospective students.

During her second year, Irish unfortunately had to take a long hiatus in order to work abroad and earn a living; her father was a construction worker and her mother, a housewife, and the two of them needed their eldest child’s help in managing funds. However, Irish sorely missed the Philippines and after some time, she returned to her homeland. The longing to become a teacher grew far too great, which spurred her prompt comeback at Foundation University. Irish then earned her degree in the College of Education this 2021. She aspires to teach high school students general science and 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. Irish exclaimed, “This is me! I am a teacher now, one step closer.” There’s nothing like putting yourself to the test and feeling yourself shine!

After graduation, Irish celebrated in a simple fashion with her family, classmates, and advisors. She stated that 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. The ‘F’ in FU doesn’t just stand for Foundation, it stands for family too. Irish expressed her gratitude for FU and the countless opportunities its afforded her, for molding her into the woman that she is today, and for honing her skills in education. She’s proud of the role model she continues to be for her younger brothers and sisters. Because of FU, Irish is much closer to getting her dream job and building a brighter future.