I enjoyed myself so much that I enrolled in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program immediately
after graduation. Apart from wanting to continue learning under the same teachers, I had another reason—vindication. Despite my graduating with an MBA degree, the shadow of my mistakes continued to haunt me. Logically, a mismatch between student and school was to blame but emotionally, I still felt like a failure.
Incidentally, there is one fundamental difference between these two programs: As MBA students we were taught to master cutting-edge knowledge but in the DBA we were taught to create all that cutting-edge knowledge. And it was only through this process that I finally started to find absolution.
But just when things were beginning to go smoothly, I go on to commit mistake number three by taking a leave of absence! While taking a short break is great for recharging batteries, taking too long makes it tough to regain momentum. Quite a number of my classmates in both the MBA and DBA programs never returned after taking a leave of absence. And in my batch alone, I am the only one who got this far.
What was supposed to be a few months turned into 12 long years! Fortunately, I was able to drag myself back. However, since the MBA and DBA programs need to be completed in a set amount of time, I faced a new challenge. If I didn’t finish before the academic deadline, I would have to repeat 2/3 of my subjects, which would push me to drop out entirely.
Well, the fact that I stand here before you means that I finished, albeit after a 2-term extension and a lot of stress in between. I tell you, it was touch and go for those last two years.
So, as we stand before the cusp of graduation, the cross that I bore for 35 arduous years has finally been lifted off my shoulders.
Before I end my speech, I would like to apologize to all of you here. While I promised not to turn today into a learning activity, there are still a few lessons to be learned. And passing on those learnings is, after all, the Lasallian way.
I made three mistakes in my life and out of those came three lessons. The first is that God has plans for each and every one of us, but the trick is finding out what it is. A few of my high school classmates knew this early on, while others, myself included, only learned of it later in life. I was never meant to be an engineer, but it was only after getting over my first mistake that I realized this.
The second lesson I learned is never to treat your cross as a blockade; treat it like a detour. People stop at blockades but continue moving with detours. Don’t let failure, fear or depression paralyze you. Keep moving, even if it is at a slow pace. It is only through constant movement that you will get to fulfill your destiny.
The third lesson is that La Salle is the best school. Ever. I am not saying this because my education is 80 percent La Salle—grade school, high school, master’s and doctorate. I’m saying this because I have also worked with graduates from all over the world.
So, it took three huge mistakes, 35 years of regret, three lessons learned, two graduate degrees and one La Salle to get to where I was meant to be. Looking at all of you graduates, I am glad you didn’t take as long to get to where you were supposed to be. And if there is ever a sliver of doubt in your minds as to whether coming to De La Salle University was the right choice to make, I am here to tell you that it was!
Congratulations all of us!
Animo La Salle!
The author graduated with a Doctor of Business Administration degree on February 29, 2020. He delivered this speech as the Response of Graduates at the 4th De La Salle University Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business Graduate Studies Recognition Rites on February 22, 2020.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.