Full circle: I just gave my first ever commencement speech - at my alma mater! Quick back story - I studied in Timoteo Paez Elementary School (Tondo, Manila) for Grades 1 & 2, and then my parents transferred both my brother and I to Neo-Vision which was a Christian private school. They had been working so hard to make our lives much better, and my years spent in Neo were a proof that hard work pays off. And today, I went full circle - after my graduation more than a decade ago, I was back to take on a new role: guest speaker.

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I had the chance to give a speech on how the students can readily face life’s challenges; it was quite tricky because I knew I had to translate my thoughts in a way that the young pupils would understand. It's daunting to stay genuine but at the same time, fun enough that the young crowd won't doze off. In a nutshell I told them, BRACE FOR IMPACT. (I hope it made sense in my speech below).


The teachers also asked me to hand out awards and recognition, they told me that apparently the ‘labels’ for honorable mentions have been generalized to “with honors, high honors, highest honors”, or something like that - and the cruel, competitive student inside me went, “well that’s boring. I wanna be ‘Valedictorian’.” Needless to say, my teachers were happy to have me as a speaker, and probably even happier that I’m no longer their student. 

Congratulations to all the pupils, congratulations graduates! It’s a special day for you, and even more so for your parents, guardians, and families who have worked hard in aiding to achieving your dreams. Give them a hug, a kiss, and lots of compliments (that hopefully you truly mean). Please invite me for more of these things - it was wonderful. Read my short speech below:

Good morning. I would like to take this time to honor my beloved teachers who have greatly helped in molding me to become the woman I am, standing in front of you today. Thank you for inviting me. Words will never be enough to express how life changing it was to attend Neo-Vision school; beyond the top-notch education, my developed love for performing and declamation - my personal relationship with the Lord was so taken care of and put in utmost importance when I was studying here. So I am deeply honored to be your speaker for today.

I also would like to acknowledge the presence of our dear students, congratulations! But as you may already know, today is as important to you as it is to your parents. So to our hardworking parents, guardians and families, Saludo po ako sainyo. Good morning also to our guests and the Neo-Vision School Faculty and staff.

Today I have the privilege of speaking on the topic, “ready to face life’s challenges”. Now you might be thinking that you feel too young to be bombarded with such a complex subject; but I want you to know that young as you are - your voice, the choices you make, your actions, and your relationships with the people around you, your family and friends - they matter very much; which means the way you deal with life’s challenges is very important, too. As I speak on this matter today, I would like to focus on this passage:

Matthew 6:33
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

As you take on new adventures in your academic journey, you must be ready to face three sure things: one, that you will have a lot of exciting, joyful new experiences. Two, that you will also have to confront difficult challenges. And three, that as long as you fix your eyes on Jesus, and equip yourself accordingly, everything will be okay.

The world we live in now is constantly changing. Not everything is set in stone - even our hobbies, our dreams, sometimes our friends, and many other aspects of our lives, even the trending topics on Twitter - they all change. But one thing remains the same in all this - and that is God. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, no matter what happens around us, we will always have the assurance of joy and peace knowing that we have an eternal, unchanging Father who has our best intentions in His plans for us. So, to be ready in facing challenges, we must remember that whatever we do, we must seek Him first in prayer and fellowship, seek the advise of our parents and family, and do our personal best in whatever situation we are in.

With this I want to encourage you to strive to become the best version of yourself, holding on to the understanding that the Lord is always with us to guide, protect, provide for, and love us. Do not compare your capabilities or achievements with that of others, but work hard instead out-do your own accomplishments. When you fail, do not be disheartened. Always remember that God has set out unique plans for our lives, and sometimes that plan includes failure. But in any case, we should see these failures and challenges as an opportunity to rise - a chance to thrive and become better; a chance to use setbacks for a comeback. It’s also an opportunity for us to look at life as not defined by what our successes are or how many accolades we have, but instead by how much we continuously grow in spirit, in truth, and in love.


Isaiah 41:10 says,
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed. For I am your God. I will strengthen you
and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

 

I hope that today marks the beginning of an incredible new journey for you. May you take
courage, and be excited for what’s in store ahead. Always remember that life is a big adventure and we must hold steadfast onto the Lord, and enjoy the ride. Today may we celebrate your achievements, honour those who have helped to bring you here, and gear up for what’s in store in the future. My name is Princess Joyce Pring, Neo-Vision School
Batch 2006, servant of Jesus, student of life. Congratulations, students and may the odds be ever in your favor… God bless you!