This article was first published in Atenews’s transition issue, A.Y. 2013-2014.
“I’ve always thought academics were everything about college life until I got to see the bigger picture.”
Most freshmen’s first thoughts as they take their first steps in the university are whether or not they could survive the courses they enrolled in. High school is over, but self-identity and life issues are yet to be faced and settled.
Many study in the Ateneo for the name of the school, thinking it will be an edge in landing a job. Some are led by their parents’ influence. Others can just afford to do so. Ateneo sports a colorful range of students with different aspirations and characteristics. Yet, beyond dense “rich kid” stereotypes and even grade-hungry expectations, is there still something else to strive for in being the “Atenean”?
We’ve attached so many skewed demands and stereotypes to the name. Yet, the Atenean strives to do more than what is expected. We sometimes just become too busy and forget.
Indeed, studying for a career makes believe that we are just some of the millions in society. It is one thing to spend so much time in the library reviewing for a long exam, so we spend time to have fun, and socialize. Still, it is another thing to spend time for situations concerning matters that are more than for one’s self only.
There must be more to life than meeting what is expected of us inside the portals of the institution.
Batch 2014 Class Valedictorian and Cum Laude Jubail Pasia shares her thoughts on what the ideal Atenean is.
“He or she excels academically and does not settle for mediocrity,” she says, emphasizing, “while striving to enrich a personal relationship with one’s God.”
Jubail says that the ideal Atenean must be socially involved. He/ She makes an effort to understand existing social issues, takes a stand, organizes initiatives, and influences fellow students to be engaged in addressing such issues.
Jubail believes that this might entail us stepping out of our comfort zones. It can be remembered that Jubail had to assume the position of SAMAHAN president when the then-president-elect resigned. It was a position she was initially reluctant to receive, yet she accepted it as a responsibility.
“I cried on it for over a week and made every means possible just to escape the situation. At that moment, I felt so scared but I lifted all my worries to God, believing that whatever happened had its higher purpose,” she says.
On the other hand, Leadership Awardee and Cum Laude Robin Tongcua, whose words open this text, points out that an ideal Atenean will not merely know but practically live out what he knows.
He specifies, “In the process, this person becomes responsive to the society, seeing God in all things and rightfully responding to the call of what is happening around. An ideal Atenean will not merely discuss socio-political issues but will act with proper discernment. They do not merely give opinions but also take a stand in both principle and action.”
The Atenean, according to Jubail and Robin, transcends the simplest stereotypes.
Two experiences all Ateneans encounter are being enrolled in the First Year Development (FYDP) and National Service Training Program (NSTP). They highlight on the core not to be forgotten when reaching higher years. It is how they present it: The ideal Atenean lives by doing more (magis) and being men and women for others (cura personalis), because they are strong in faith (fortes in fide).
“There is and always will be call unique to each one. To all Ateneans, I challenge everyone to listen to this call. For in every call, a response will always be asked of you,” Robin voices out.
“As Ateneans we are free to respond in any way—we can even refuse. It is in this that I challenge everyone to reflect upon the true essence of freedom,” he adds.
It should not be a priority to reach perfection, but it is a challenge not to box oneself from doing something much greater. The challenge is breaking out of the box. As Pasia says, “We may not be the ideal Atenean, but what matters most is that we strive to be one.”
As unique as the students’ reasons for studying in the Ateneo, our different callings to do well on our part makes being the “Atenean” one’s responsible choice. There comes the mission of each one in bridging the Ateneo community and society.
Freshmen or not, every Atenean has his/ her struggles more than just meeting the demands and ideals of the Jesuit Education. Sooner or later after coming up with a decision, it is about a shifting of a course—not a course or program of the institution, but a course on how one lives the remaining years, even after marching on that fateful day of March. It means after being released to the real world, one has a choice of either shutting out, or involving.
As Jubail puts it, “Do not limit yourself; break your boundaries, and you will be surprised that you can actually do things you never imagined you can.”