Who would have thought that after 107 long years, Benguet State University (BSU) would be awarding its first Summa Cum Laude on July 21, 2023?
Diligent, tenacious, and teachable – those qualities are embodied in Vjnhyl Zam Alvendia Pondivida, 22, who took Bachelor of Science in Development Communication (BSDC) from Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, which allowed her to be the first Summa Cum Laude of BSU.
Pondivida will lead the 1835 graduands of BSU who will be marching during the 98th BSU Commencement Exercises on July 20 and 21.
According to the official record acquired from the BSU-Office of the University Registrar, BSU will be awarding a lone summa cum laude, 51 magna cum laudes, and 370 cum laudes. This is accounted for 23% of the graduating students.
BSU will confer graduands from the 15 colleges and one open university.
Of the graduating students, the highest graduands are coming from teacher education with 427 students, followed by 260 graduands from agriculture, 211 in home economics and technology, 156 from information sciences, 138 from public administration and governance, 129 from arts and humanities, 102 from engineering, 100 in nursing, 84 from human kinetics, 57 from numeracy and applied sciences, 56 from veterinary medicine, 51 from forestry, 31 in open university, 27 in natural sciences, and six in social sciences.
The 1835 graduating students are marching on the commencement exercises carrying their bannered degree programs: 35 undergraduate programs; 31-degree programs in masters; nine doctorate degrees; two diploma courses; and one certificate program.
It started as a dream 4 years ago
Pondivida shared that she felt mixed emotions about being recognized as the first Summa Cum Laude since she was just manifesting it for four years, and she could not believe it was indeed here.
“I am ecstatic because it is indeed an answered prayer. After long, tedious hours of burning the midnight oil along with failures and rejections in the process, I am always glad that my diligence and tenacity sustained me to continue,” Pondivida stated.
She added: “I may not be the smartest, and there were many things that I am not good at, but I always acknowledge that learning is a lifelong process and that we should always be teachable,”
The COVID is an extra-challenge to pull off
The pandemic has become an extra challenge academically, emotionally, financially, and mentally to every student, and Pondivida is unexcused.
Despite transitioning learning modes to blended and hybrid learning platforms, familial obligations, studying and surviving simultaneously, volunteer work, inevitable distractions, intermittent internet connection, and limited resources, she proved her diligence and love of learning.
She doubled her efforts in understanding the lessons and finding ways to attend classes by going to the municipal library to borrow a computer.
She was also thankful to her friends and family, who helped her overcome these challenges and served as her support community since day one of her student journey.
Further, Pondivida pointed out that not everyone is privileged enough to have a good and healthy learning environment in their homes to focus on their studies. Some students chose to drop out of school to work, and some barely survived.
She conveyed that we are no strangers to many faces of struggles, and the pandemic did not give students the typical college life. Thus, she encouraged everyone that we should and must not compare our situations and privileges because it takes zero cost to be kind, offer compassion, and show appreciation to everyone.
“Sa gitna ng lumalalang krisis, natutuhan natin ang pagpapalalim ng ating kaalaman sa sistema at pagbibigay ng empatiya sa ating kapwa para isulong ang katagang: No one is left behind. With our advocacy, we call for Ligtas na Balik Eskwela at nagsawa rin ng mga relief operations sa komunidad upang ipa-abot ang tulong. Even amid the pandemic, the study of devcom teaches us its very essence of being people-centered and action-oriented,” she expressed.
Hence, in these difficult times where students’ mental health and families’ financial status have been greatly affected, everyone’s effort in choosing to survive should be recognized as little victories amidst trials.
Pondivida’s awakened consciousness
More than being a student, Pondivida is also active and holds positions in various community and student organizations.
Her awakened consciousness about community development was brought to her by her years of immersion in her degree program in development communication.
Her exposure to community situations, development gaps, and needs made her and the rest of her classmates heed the call of development support communication, such as organizing training programs, strategic communications, specialized reportage published in their Agshan Community Publication, project management among others.
While BSU has given her a lot of opportunities, her stint in The Mountain Collegian, BSU’s student publication, enabled her to deeply realize the critical role and noble duty of campus journalists in writing with a moral and social consciousness to serve her co-students.
She explained that her exposures and experiences with her different organizations molded and navigated her to become a leader ready to take a stand and someone who values people’s participation in achieving development.
“Kasabay din ng pagiging lider ang pakikinig at pagbibigay ng boses sa mga kwentong hindi pinapakinggan ng iba. You do not count the medals and trophies, but you count the impact you left on people,” Pondivida underscored.
Further, Pondivida emphasized, “To venture and navigate as the chief editor of different publications including The Mountain Collegian, Agshan, and AsinBolo, it has and will always engrave in me the lifelong lessons — the very foundation of the good sense of service — being the voice of the unheard and the eyes of the masses.”
She elaborated that her degree in development communication awakened her to find her role as a development and community journalist, where she found her purpose in giving voice to the unheard and marginalized communities.
“Laging ipinapaalala sa atin ng isa sa aking mga guro ang mga salitang: ‘Husay at Saysay.’ As a DevCom student at lider, it is not enough na magaling at mahusay ka konsepto; dapat alam mo itong i-apply sa propesyon at mag-ambag para sa lipunan,” Pondivida said.
She further expressed: “Kailangang bigyan mo ng saysay ang mga teoryang natutunan sa classroom at patibayin ang larangang ito sa lipunan upang sa gayon ay mabigyang pagpapakahulugan ang bahagi or role natin.
“Kasama ng komunikasyon ang kahandaang makinig at bigyang boses ang mga hindi naririnig. Kaya ang komunikasyong pangkaunlaran o development communication ay naging malaking bahagi upang ang isang estudyanteng tulad ko ay handang makialam at handang tumindig para sa bayan,” Pondivida shared.
Moreover, as an advocate for youth empowerment, she encourages her fellow students to be more empathetic to one another.
“Malupit na ang mundo, kaya piliin nating maging mabuti. You cannot pour from an empty cup. We often value productivity and hardwork, but it is also important to allow yourself to take a break and give permission to yourself rest. Mahalagang bigyan natin ng oras na mas kilalanin at balangkasin kung sino tayo,” Pondivida added.
Pondivida is a living proof that expectations to students are beyond achieving awards. Being a student and a leader defines an endless passion and love of what you are doing to influence, empower, mobilize, and inspire others. By Crael Lawa