Foundation University’s First Summa Cum Laude

Princess Mhey Baab (pronounced “Bob” from her German father) is a typical modern-day story of life’s struggles and difficulties. Raised singlehandedly by her mother, she lost her father when she was only six. Being an only child did not ease the day-to-day burden as her mother had to make both ends meet for the both of them. These experiences, however, made her a strong-willed person, setting a goal for herself, and determined to make her dreams a reality.

For Princess Mhey Baab, albeit orphaned by her father at a very young age, it was the acts of selflessness of her mother, the former Emily Lastimoso, that made her pursue her studies relentlessly.

Graduating summa cum laude at Foundation University in Dumaguete City last June 4 with the degree of bachelor of science in tourism management, she was also college valedictorian. As per information of the Office of Admissions and Records, Princess is the first summa cum laude graduate of Foundation University in its 73-year history.

In her valedictory address, which she delivered unperturbed despite a slight downpour on graduation day, Princess exhibited hope amid the seeming hopelessness that her batchmates felt in the past two years when the pandemic started. Theirs is what can be considered as a historic batch, a milestone worthy of celebration, as they are the first batch of graduates from the Senior High School program of the Department of Education.

“Don’t lose hope even if we experience turbulence in our lives. We must never give up regardless of the circumstances. God will always be there for us in good times and bad,” she expressed.

According to Princess, she has always been a diligent student even if her Mama Emily, who is an entrepreneur, just let her be without abject pressure or coercion to really excel in school.

Coming from Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, she finished her elementary years at St. Augustine Academy of Bayawan, Inc. where she also stayed for Junior High School, but eventually transferred to Bayawan National High School when she was in Grade 10.

Her stint at Foundation Preparatory Academy for Senior High School where she took the technical-vocational-livelihood track under the home economics strand and majoring in travel services and housekeeping operations was for her the “best decision” she has made. “Indeed, beautiful and remarkable memories worth reminiscing,” intoned Princess, adding that “it has been both an incredible and arduous journey.”

She acknowledged the great help of the university’s learning management system, the Foundation University Expanded Learning (FUEL), that “despite uncertainties and risks . . . we continued to FUEL our education and found ways to get through.” She is cognizant of the fact that “the transition was difficult, but the students and the teachers did their best to carry out and adopt to the new learning delivery and methods of teaching and learning.”

What are her immediate plans now that she has finally finished her baccalaureate degree?

Princess, who stands 5’4 and a half (at least the last time she checked her height in 2019), plans to become a flight attendant. With her sweet countenance and demeanor, she can very well be a good representation of the Filipino career woman of the 21st century.

“But first, I have to have my front teeth fixed before anything else,” confesses Princess, who has a slight gap between her front teeth.

It was a surreal experience for her to set foot on campus in early January of this year for a quick stopover to submit certain class requirements. She said she did not have time to see all her classmates and teachers anymore as protocols are still being maintained.

“We are really very happy and grateful that our commencement rites is face-to-face,” Princess observed. Strict protocols were imposed such as the candidates for graduation would pick up their diploma themselves as they are acknowledged by their respective deans with a bow without handshake.

As she enjoined her fellow Foundationites “to continue learning and growing as individuals,” Princess also exhorted them to “learn to concentrate and appreciate the process to success . . . not measuring success based on results alone.”

Conferring of titles and degrees, as well as the distribution of diplomas with the college deans, was done by the university president, Victor Vicente G. Sinco. Commencement speaker was Dr. Maria Luz T. Macasinag, president and chief executive officer of Bicol College and member of the board of trustees of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA).