Pangarap ng maraming tao ang makapag-tapos ng pagaaral sa mga kilalang eskwelahan. Ngunit kapag sinabing kilalang eskwelahan, kasama na rin dito ang kamahalan ng presyo ng pag-aaral. Kaya para sa mga mahihirap, ginagawan ng paraan upang matupad ang ganitong pangarap katulad na lamang ng pagkuha ng scholarship. Sa kwentong ito ay malalaman natin na hindi hadlang ang kahirapan upang makamit natin ang kagustuhang makapag-tapos sa mga kilalang eskwelahan. Katulad na lamang ng isang babae na anak ng jeepney drayber na naka-graduate ng Valedictorian sa Ateneo.
Ang babaeng ito ay si Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña. Nakaka-bilib dahil marami ang nagsasabing ang Ateneo ay para lamang sa mga mayayaman. Pero si Reycel ang babaeng nagpatunay na kaya ng isang mahirap ang maging matagumpay sa eskwelahang ito. Siya ay naging Valedictorian sa Batch 2019 sa Ateneo De Manila University. Nakumpleto din niya ang degree na Bachelor of Arts major in Management Economics, minor in Development, at Program Awardee at Cum Laude. Ang galing niya diba?
Sa katunayan, si Reycel ay presidente din ng University Student Council at nabigyan din ng mga recognitions bilang Most Outstanding Student Group for Leadership and Service, St. Ignatius Award for Most Outstanding Scholar, at Most Outstanding Individual for Leadership and Service.
Sa kanyang essay sa valedictorian selection na nakalagay sa website ng Ateneo, sinabi niya dito ang pinagdaanan niya sa pagaaral sa Ateneo. Sa tanong na “What has Ateneo done for you?”.
Ito ang ibinahagi niya:
“My father is a jeepney driver, whose example taught me to work harder than everyone else—not only because hard work is high dignity but also, while it is no guarantee of success, anything less than that for us would mean complete fa!lÜre. I always worked harder than everyone else to get the same opportunities they had. It’s the least I can do to compensate for my lack of privilege. This is a reality of life I have long embraced: shouting as jeepney barker for my father to taking odd jobs in high school. I worked hard to be here.
“Yet, I am aware that my full scholarship exists not because I simply earned it. All my work would have been for nothing if there was no slot on offer in the first place. I am here because someone, by the grace of their heart, gave generously to fund my education. I am here because a generous Ateneo exists, where someone like me who does not share the wealthier background of the common Atenean can be entrusted with the Presidency of the school’s Student Council.”
“I was raised in p0verty—there was never enough food on our table, my parents were not always regular employees, and as students, my sister and I had childhoods filled with promissory notes for delayed tuition fee payments. I was seven years old when I joined my first rally. I stood with my father at the frontline of a jeepney strike that aimed to raise the minimum fare. For some, the rising price of fuel meant less profit. For my family, it meant skipping another meal; it meant more debt and more promissory notes.” Saludo kami sayo Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña! Nawa ay maraming kabataan ang tumulad sa ipinakita mong determinasyon at pagsisikap. Mabuhay ka!