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Of Stars and Scholarships
Message in behalf of the Star Scholars who Graduated
Br. Armin Luistro FSC, President and Chancellor, Br. Bernie Oca FSC, Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission and External Relations, respected deans, school administrators, beloved parents, fellow scholars, guests and friends, good evening.
Five years ago, when I was chosen to be part of the University’s sixth batch of Star Scholars, the high school where I came from was very happy of this achievement that they had this fact published in a local Chinese newspaper. Perhaps due to the fact that they were not fully aware of the significance of the star used to name the scholarship, they had the word “star” translated into 明星 which loosely translates to “star”, referring to a celebrity. I don’t blame them for that; in fact, I am very grateful that I have a very supportive high school.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if you would focus your attention to the University’s logo, we can easily see at its center the Signum Fidei star—the Sign of Faith—a very important symbol for the De La Salle Brothers. The fact that the University’s premier scholarship program has been named after something that stands for the De La Salle Brothers themselves shows us how much we are valued as star scholars.
Yet, the name of the scholarship program and the waiver of our tuition and fees are just some of what make up the Star Scholars Program. More than these are the personal development and training programs that the University offers through the Achieving through Integrated Mentoring for the Star Scholars (AIM for the Stars) handled by the Office of Student LIFE. In addition to this is, of course, the interaction with a University Fellow assigned as one’s mentor with whom one can discuss practically anything under the sun. So if you are wondering what a University administrator’s recreation is or how an intellectual giant loves another person, pray that you get the right one.
As added bonuses to all of these are the very accommodating Director and staff of the Scholarship and Financial Assistance Office, invitations to events like these where you meet fellow star scholars, some freebies from the Marketing Communication Office, access to graduate school computers, and the opportunity of having our enrollment assessment forms or EAFs stamped with the phrase “Star Scholar”, a mark which most of us would like to hide from others either out of pure humility or, as is most often the case, in avoidance of high expectations from our teachers and block mates.
But these perks were for me and my batchmates, and I’m quite sure that you definitely have a lot more than what we have had because every year, they try to improve the program by increasing the perks. And for this, we thank the University and its administrators, faculty and staff. Br. Armin and our University administrators, we thank you for making an investment in us as Star Scholars.
Nevertheless, the Star Scholars Program is neither about the perks of being one, nor about the huge savings of our parents from the full waiver of our tuition and fees. It is about the scholar. It is about us. It is about YOU. Batch Eleven, the University can only do so much as to choose you and to give you the means to truly become scholars, to truly become stars. It is up to us to prove ourselves worthy of the title.
Indeed, what is a star?
Science tells us that a star is a massive luminous ball of ionized gas held together by gravity, yet, as C. S. Lewis tells us, “That is not what a star is, but only what it is made of”. Fellow scholars, we do choose our own paths. Do we want to be stars who are merely intellectual giants who will eventually shrink with old age as stars end their lives as white dwarves, neutron stars or even black holes consumed by greed and selfishness? Or do we want to be more than just what stars are made of?
We can be navigational stars which help sailors find their way at night, or we can be like the astrological constellations of stars which somehow influenced the history of mankind. We can be like the stars stamped on a young child’s examination paper which tell them that they did the right thing, or we can be like the military decorations which serve as marks of service and patriotism. Most of all, we can simply be little stars which show the greatness of the Creator in His work and twinkle even at the darkest hour of the night.
To end, let me share with you a part of a Lasallian prayer: Lord, in spite of our own problems and struggles in life, may we still be a source of strength and encouragement for others so that we may become the light of the world that you called us to be.
To this challenge, I add another challenge, the challenge that comes with the greeting, “congratulations”—the challenge to prove to the University that it was never wrong in choosing you.
Fellow scholars, congratulations and live Jesus in our hearts forever!