“Don't Be Scared to Take New Steps. If Ever You Are Scared, Do it Scared” – A Peace Advocate Student’s Journey

As the Mindanao State University-Maguindanao prepares for its 46th commencement exercises, stories of remarkable graduating students take center stage. One of them is Karmina Usop Kamid, set to complete her Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree and whose college years have been defined by resilience, growth, and a deep commitment to peace.

Karmina is the youngest of five siblings, and her achievement as the first in her family to graduate with Latin honors is a milestone that reflects her hard work and determination. However, just like other students, she had also experienced challenges along the way. Transitioning from the busy place of Cotabato City to the rural setting of Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, was a significant adjustment for her. Reflecting on this experience, she shared, “I came from Cotabato City, so transitioning to a rural place was also a big adjustment for me.”

Despite initial struggles, Karmina’s time at MSU-Maguindanao has been transformative. She credits much of her success to the encouragement and support she received from her mentors, particularly the late Sir Ansari Zailon. “He was the first teacher to encourage me to join Quiz Bees. Because of him, I participated in five quiz bees inside and outside the campus,” she narrated. This encouragement was important in helping her realize her potential and achieve academic awards.

A significant aspect of Karmina’s life at the university was her involvement with the University Peace Club (U-peaC). Through her participation, she gained a deeper understanding of the socio-political dynamics, cultural richness, and the history of the Bangsamoro region. “For me, MSU-Maguindanao is an eye-opener. I learned about the armed conflicts within the SPMS box and the narratives of the people here. My knowledge about the culture and history of this place expanded,” she explained.

Karmina’s role as the documenter for the U-peaC was particularly impactful. She recorded the club’s peace-related activities, ensuring their efforts were recognized and remembered. “If it was not documented, it is considered as if it did not happen. Through the pictures I took and the documentation I did, there’s a large possibility to encourage people to engage in peace-related works,” she emphasized.

Her experiences with the U-peaC not only broadened her horizons but also significantly improved her social skills and ability to handle conflicts. “Joining the University Peace Club opened my eyes and enlightened me about various things. I learned how to handle conflicts and be a mediator between opposing parties,” she noted. Furthermore, she also expressed deep gratitude for her experiences with the U-peaC, describing it as her “safe haven” at MSU-Maguindanao.

Reflecting on the MSU-Maguindanao community’s efforts in promoting peace, Karmina highlighted the inclusiveness and respect for the diversity of the tri-people population. She commended the institution for promoting the existence and culture of indigenous people, emphasizing how normal it was for the students to uphold these values. “It is commendable for the institution to promote the existence of our indigenous people and have their culture respected by the whole population of the MSU-Maguindanao,” she remarked.

Karmina’s journey at MSU-Maguindanao is a testament to the power of resilience, support, and the pursuit of knowledge. Her advice to incoming students reflects her own experiences: “Don’t be scared to take new steps. If ever you are scared, do it scared. You don’t know what’s waiting for you.”

As Karmina Usop Kamid prepares to graduate, she leaves behind a legacy of excellence and peace advocacy. Her story is an example of inspiration for future students, showing the transformative power of education and the importance of embracing new perspectives. Through her experiences, Karmina has not only achieved academic success but also contributed significantly to promoting peace.