In a life that is filled with beautiful possibilities, I know that you will agree with me that the choices one makes shape the journey and, eventually, the people you will become. Listen to your heart and make these choices carefully because they must be deeply personal and not driven by somebody else’s aspirations, only your own. Be brave about these choices and know that the paths you choose will require perseverance and discipline but, above all, they will require a sense of responsibility—not just to yourself but toward others.
Be responsible, to yourself. Sign up for life. Seek to find your passion and pursue it without restraint. You will need to be brave—take on as many experiences as possible and immerse yourself in those that you find meaningful. Finding meaning in the work you do will cue you where your passion lie. But know that, although you will feel enormous happiness when the results of your hard work are positive, inevitably some of the task involved in getting the job done will be at times tedious and uninteresting. Remember always that happiness in life is not spread along one single continuum. Fortunately, there are moments of extraordinary happiness and you should not confuse the tediousness of some of these task with unhappiness. They will simply serve to get the job done.
Be responsible, towards others. Remain cognizant that as much as our choices affect us, they will most definitely affect others. We form a part of an extraordinary community that strives to provide us with a sense of possibilities in life. Remember that these possibilities have been made available to you by others who bravely responded to the challenges they faced, and always with a vision towards the future. So if you take the time to listen and watch those around you carefully, many of the most important lessons have already been learned, and some of the more painful ones can be avoided by those who remain attentive. Ultimately, you must treasure what has been achieved and do your part to contribute towards a fairer and more just Philippines.
Bravery requires perseverance and although the challenges at times seem overwhelming, there are always solutions and they become more apparent when we realize it’s the work of many that will build a nation, where possibilities are real, be part of that, be brave. There is no single answer to the issues we face, but in the coming together of efforts that restores hope. Your efforts—sincere and brave—will bear fruit, so do not give up.
Remain brave and true to yourselves and always remember to be compassionate.
Graduates, may the sun shine on your path and my biggest, warmest congratulations.
About the Graduation Speaker
Elizabeth Eder Zobel de Ayala
Elizabeth Eder Zobel de Ayala or “Lizzie” is a socio-civic entrepreneur in the Philippines. She is Co-founder and Chairman of Teach for the Philippines, which is the country partner of Teach for America. Teach for the Philippines is a non-profit organization that enlists some of the most promising young leaders in the Philippines to teach in the public school system for two years. Lizzie continues to advocate for access to responsible family planning in the Philippines and contributed to the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines in 2012. As part of these efforts, she is a founding Board Member of Friendly Care Foundation; the Philippine Center for Population and Development; and, the Forum for Family Planning and Development. Lizzie serves on the Board of the Population Council in New York City. She also sits on the Board of Regents of Boston College – the same school she graduated from in 1987 with a BA degree in Philosophy and Economics.
Lizzie is married to Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and mother to four beautiful children, Mariana, Jaime Alfonso, Eugenia and Mercedes.