Walking down a red carpet aisle, coming up to the stage, and receiving the diploma to mentally say, “Finally, graduate na ako!” is a vision in every graduate’s mind that they have been hoping to act in reality. But during the height of the pandemic, the Class of 2020 and 2021 were divested of the opportunity to celebrate their success by graduating the traditional way. Instead of coming together on school grounds to commemorate their academic feat, they graduated in their respective abodes intimately, on Facebook Live streams, with the company of their families.

Momofuko quotes, “It is never too late for anything in life,” including getting the graduation ceremony every IITian deserves. The Mindanao State University- Iligan Institute of Technology announced a special face-to-face graduation ceremony to toast the great academic triumph of the pandemic graduates. On November 27, 2022, Sunday, the Class of 2020 and 2021 flocked the gymnasium wearing the signature maroon, yellow, and white togas as they anticipate celebrating their graduation.

Micah Mariel Zuño, a BEED-English alumna, was more than elated to have been part of this special graduation. Despite the fact that she was the only Latin honor graduate who did not have a parent or a relative to accompany her in marching up to the stage, she stood happily and proudly center stage with a big smile. She shared, “To be honest, I told myself maybe I shouldn’t have just done it, but I realized this is only a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I should grab it, and I did.” She received her degree with a Cum Laude distinction—a fitting end to her baccalaureate journey.

Most candidates for the special commencement ceremonies have already passed their corresponding licensure examinations and are already working in their respective fields and industries. To give due credit to their professions, those with Latin honors were addressed unconventionally with their titles — Engr., LPT, RN, etc. as they were invited to the stage, which later became a great courtesy.

Among the graduates was Engr. Kevin Carljohn Paler, a BS Metallurgical Engineering alumnus. He shared that as soon as it was announced that the university will hold a special commencement ceremony for the “pandemic graduates” he was beyond happy, grateful, and excited about it. “The special commencement ceremony not only made all the graduates thankful, but it also made every parent happy, seeing their child march and be personally called graduates of MSU-IIT,” he said. “It is a proud moment looking at my friends go up the stage, accepting their rewards and being addressed as Engineers. I am so thrilled that all the hard work has finally paid off. Experiencing some of their struggles during our undergraduate years, and witnessing them go up that stage, made me very happy. Congratulations my fellow graduates!” he added.

College is more than just a battle of intellectual brawn. In essence, it is also a waiting game that requires patience, hard work, and sacrifice. After waiting for more than two years, no one other than the graduates of this special commencement ceremony understands what it takes to wait for the moment to shine. Their stories encourage us to never lose hope in the dreams we uphold, come what may—a rain, a storm, or a pandemic—for they all come true in due time. And as this celebration becomes embedded in MSU-IIT’s history, so shall the memories and lessons intertwined, so that we may remember them as we wait for our turn to appear before the world, carrying IITian excellence through and through.

Report by Noe Gel Roy and Rodel Remolana
Graphics by Griffin Taladua
Photo by Richard Domagtoy

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