BS Economics graduate tops UPSE Batch 2015

sundiam1Samantha Marie C. Sundiam, BS Economics, summa cum laude, graduated at the top her 2015 batch with a weighted average grade (WAG) of 1.18.

She is followed by Meg L. Reganon, BS Economics, who also graduated summa cum laude with a WAG of 1.185.

The two summas from UPSE is among the 29 summa cum laudes of UP Diliman for batch 2015 graduates.

A total of 93 graduates from UPSE obtained their undergraduate degrees with Latin honors comprising 2 summa cum laude, 14 magna cum laude, and 77 cum laude.

This year’s awardees are the following:

  • Class Valedictorian: Samantha Marie C. Sundiam, BS Economics
  • Encarnacion Award for Excellence in Economics: Meg L. Reganon
  • Gerardo P. Sicat Award (for Best Theses):
    • Best Thesis: John Rafael A. Garrido and Bridget C. Huang — “The Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on the Labor Force Participation of Filipino Women who are Married or Live with an Intimate Partner”
    • Second Best Thesis: Meg L. Reganon and Althea Mari Fiel P. Roxas — “Too Smart to Take Risk? Exploring Non-Linearities Between Cognitive Ability and Risk Preferences”
    • Third Best Thesis: Arrah Jenica V. Batiles and Chiara Gabrille M. Buergo — “The Effect of Public and Private Transportation on Maternal Health Care Access”
    • Third Best Thesis: Janika Mae S. Chua and Kristine Anne D. Gloria — “An Empirical Investigation of the Factors that Affect Stock Returns in the Philippines from 2007-2011”
  • Best Monetary and Financial Economics Thesis (FMAP): Janika Mae S. Chua and Kristine Anne D. Gloria — “An Empirical Investigation of the Factors that Affect Stock Returns in the Philippines from 2007-2011”

Read Ms. Sundiam’s valedictory speech below:

Valedictory Speech of Samantha Marie C. Sundiam

Tom Sawyer once said, “In order to make a man covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain”.

Four years ago, we were drifting in uncharted waters. After graduating from high school, we were left to decide on which path to take as we started building the foundation of our future careers. Opportunities came knocking at our doors and decisions have to be made. Although we were uncertain of how we wanted the future to unfold, we made the bold move of choosing the UP School of Economics. Whether it was chance or fate that brought us here, it was in committing to this decision that allowed us to make it this far.

Unbeknownst to us, this choice was our first attempt at applying a basic lesson in economics: the importance of weighing opportunity costs and doing cost-benefit analyses as measures for making decisions. Why do I want to study economics? What will I get out of it? How will I contribute to it? Will the benefits exceed the costs? Will my net present value be positive? Despite these questions that have crossed our minds many times in the past, what we already knew then and are proud of today is that this decision of studying in UP is not only a privilege but also a responsibility.

Today, looking back at our 4-year stay in UP, I can say that one of the most important things I learned is this: intelligence can get us far, but not as far as relentless determination can. In the end, success comes not so much from IQ but from constant persistence in the face of failure, unwavering faith in the midst of adversities, and the sheer tenacity to thrive and succeed.

Our stay in UP was not easy. In terms of our academic life, many of us can still remember the things that we have gone through and the sacrifices that had to be made in order to ensure that we get to wear our sablay on time. We all worked our way up to reach where we are right now. And I believe I speak for everyone when I say that it was not an easy climb. Who can forget our caffeine-filled mornings trying to finish our seemingly endless problem sets full of graphs and equations? We would leave Facebook chat boxes, Twitter feeds, and Viber windows open in the hope of doing our homework in the company of our block mates. How about those morning hangouts with our classmates spent comparing notes or studying together for exams? Or during those weeks when we needed to burn the midnight oil because we were swimming in mountains of books and PowerPoint slides only to be fueled on by our batchmates’ memes on Facebook.

These were days when we found consolation in prayer as we ask for guidance, endurance, and strength to face life’s challenges head-on. The School of Economics known for its stringent rules on scholastic delinquency also put students on the edge of their seats while waiting for their grades. Who would not fear for his or her grades if some exams were right minus wrong? How about when a question for a single number is a paragraph long, or with curves apply only to graphs, and unfortunately not to grades? Nevertheless, inasmuch as people respond to incentives, we still found our drive to continue fighting no matter how harrowing the situation might be.

But it is not only in these academic aspects that we have struggled as students. In our day to day interactions with people from all walks of life, we have been confronted with different social issues that have partly become our personal troubles. We have surely met students who struggled financially in pursuit of their dreams. These students remind us that our UP education is not served to us on a silver platter, how our parents taught us to provide for our future, and how our country’s tax payers contributed a part of their meager income to subsidize our education. These students remind us that our UP education is not served to us on a silver platter. There were also times when we met criticisms on our stand on pertinent issues. Yet, we stayed grounded as we knew that our choices were based on weighted options and rational decisions.

Indeed, these challenges may have been the reason why not only graphs shift in Econ, but some of our friends did, too; why some did not see their future in the School, or how others have found their passion somewhere else.

But how we were able to get through everything is a matter of how we saw these challenges as opportunities to become better and greater, that this chase for excellence in time had become our habit.

Economics has taught us a very important lesson in life: that there is no such thing as free lunch. What then makes our graduation very rewarding is how we were able to hedge all those risks as we took the great plunge. We risked a lot of things to get here but we managed to survive the seemingly insurmountable hurdles of success. And these successes of ours become functions of the inputs imbibed in us by all those people who have nurtured us and seen us grow.

Our ability to withstand challenges we faced hinged largely on the unparalleled support and constant motivation provided by our families who became our strength, our friends who loved us like family, our batch mates who grew with us, and our professors–the giants–whose shoulders we stood on.

And for these I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who held our hands and ran with us as we chased after our dreams no matter how long it took us or how far we had to go. To our families, thank you for your unconditional love and unquestioning support. A part of honor and successes we owe them to you. I specially thank my mother Lourdes and sister Danica. You have definitely been the wind beneath my wings. But as you let my wings soar greater heights, you have taught me an invaluable lesson in life: to always stay centered and grounded no matter how far I go and how high I fly. To my father, the late Justice Edgardo Sundiam whom I wish were here with us today, I thank you for inspiring me to always remain principled as I stand up for what is just and right even if it is not always the popular choice.

To our friends you have proven countless times that integration is not the only thing that has a constant. Even we do have in your company. To block E2, you became my first friends in college. You have seen my maturity and growth or the lack thereof. I thank you for accepting me both at my best and my worst. To the rest of my batch mates, you have helped me get through college with more ease because of your fun-loving presence. Thank you for all the memories each one of you shared with me and the time you have spent with me whether to study for an exam or to exchange random conversations. To my Ganap family, your unwavering support became my drive to always strive to be better. Thank you for believing in me when I doubted myself. And to my best friends Bella, Kim, and JC, your reassuring friendship is more than enough for me to believe that I was, am, and never will be alone in any of my fights, no matter how trying they get. And for this, I am sincerely grateful.

To our professors, we are greatly indebted to you for the effort and time you had invested to hone our intellectual vigor. Your tough love has brought us to where we are right now. We are more confident to face the real world because we know that you took us under your wings. I would like to specially express gratitude for the mentorship and guidance of our dearly departed Dr. Fidelina Carlos and my good friend Derek Parreñas. You’ve both have taught us how it is to live for others and love without asking anything in return. While both your passing has brought the School of Economics to tears, the life that you have imparted will always remain in us. You will never be forgotten.

And most especially to our Almighty Father, we are humbled that no matter how undeserving we may be, we are still blessed beyond our expectations. All of our achievements are for Your greater glory. As now graduates of the UP School of Economics, especially in its 50th year, it is time for us to give back not just to UPSE but also to the country. As Iskolars ng Bayan, having been privileged to study in the country’s premier state university, and in the country’s best School of Economics, we have the responsibility to use the knowledge and experiences that we have gained through the years to serve the country. Being able to wear the sablay shows how we have embodied excellence. It is now time to uphold honor in public service. And in serving others we must keep in mind Adam Smith’s words: “No matter how selfish you think man is, it is obvious that there are some principles in his nature that give him an interest in the welfare of others, and make their happiness necessary to him even if he gets nothing from it but pleasure of seeing it.”

Given all there these outpouring achievements and successes that are already within our grasp, we must always remember Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Congratulations, Class of 2015. Thank you very much and good evening.