UP Mindanao had its first summa cum laude graduate and held the investiture rites for its fifth chancellor, Agricultural Economics Professor Larry N. Digal, during the constituent university’s 22nd commencement exercises on June 21, 2019 in Davao City.
Food Technology major, Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo, was the first student of the campus to qualify for the top honor after earning a cumulative Weighted Average Grade of 1.1971. She was also the valedictorian of her batch.
Digal was the commencement speaker. Before the conferment of degrees, he was vested as UP Mindanao Chancellor in rites administered by UP Regent Angelo Jimenez.
Estudillo and Digal both alluded to God and the UP core values of honor and excellence in their speeches.
Estudillo first praised her batchmates. “Hindi mo hinayaang diktahan ka ng iyong kalagayan. Bagkus, nagawa mong lampasan ang hamon na ipinukol sa ‘yo. [You did not allow circumstances to dictate upon you. Instead, you were able to surmount the challenge thrown at you.]”
“Kaya ka narito, [That’s why you’re here]” she said.
She paid homage to “lakas at diskarte ng babae,” having been raised by what she described as a “nagsasariling ina.” Growing up asthmatic, she learned to value each day. “There’s something miraculous each day if you’re willing to see.”
Estudillo thanked UP for having taught students to measure success in terms of helping others, and God for unconditional and boundless love. “Ang paglilingkod sa Kaniya ay paglilingkod sa bayan [Serving God is serving others],” she stressed.
“Kaisa tayo sa mithiing-bayan, magkakaiba man ang pamamaraan [We are one in serving the country, although in different ways],” she said. “Some of us here may be silent, but we are not blind. . . . There’s an Oble in each of us,” Estudillo added before engaging the class to individually declare themselves as the beginning of change starting that day.
Digal, raised in Davao and a father of three, is a BS Agriculture cum laude graduate of UP Los Baños. He earned his postgraduate degrees at Purdue University in Indiana, USA and at the University of Sydney. Before joining UP Mindanao in 2001 and rising to the deanship of its School of Management, he taught at the Ateneo de Davao University and the University of Sydney. He has held executive posts in the Mindanao Business Council, JS Gaisano Inc., and the Department of Trade and Industry Region XI.
He spoke of the importance of dreams, “Having a simple dream [to teach in UP] has led me to where I am now.” He spoke of the “power of timing” or being in the right place at the right time. “God prepared me so that UP Mindanao [will] be the place for me to share my talents and to be surrounded by my family and those who are important to me.”
Digal then spoke of his dream of UP Mindanao contributing to the development of Mindanao, “with the University bringing the best of the world to Mindanao and the best of Mindanao to the rest of the world.”
He said that the University will focus on sustainable agri- and bio-systems, Mindanao arts and culture, and world-class sports development.
Digal and Estudillo served as inspiration for the 353 candidates who were receiving their degrees, 16 of whom graduated magna cum laude, and 79, cum laude, from UP Mindanao’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, and School of Management.
UP Mindanao, established in 1995 through an act of Congress, is UP’s sixth of eight constituent universities.