A Story of Teduray Spirit and Academic Victory

“Naniniwala Ako na sa Kabila ng Lahat, Magtatagumpay Ako, sa Ngalan ng Aking Tribo”

In a milestone such as graduation, where flying colors reign, here comes Ms. Jeanette Divinagracia Fernando, a dedicated and hardworking student who created her own wings to fly towards reaching her dreams. Ms. Fernando will graduate during the 46th Commencement Exercises of Mindanao State University-Maguindanao with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Animal Science and will receive an award of Best in Practicum. She is a proud member of a Teduray clan who resides in Cotabato City, Maguindanao del Norte. She’s holding onto the notion that success can be achieved by defying the status quo.

Unlike many others, Ms. Fernando fought a hard battle and conquered numerous challenges before reaching this milestone. The most significant challenges that she encountered were being away from her family and being in an environment where people’s culture and personalities were different from what she had experienced. She stated, “Ang mahiwalay sa pamilya ko at mapunta sa environment na may iba’t-ibang kultura at personalidad ang pinaka-challenging sa akin.” Despite this, she chose to take risks rather than regret not trying.

At MSU-Maguindanao, she found herself in an amazing institution that values oneness and inclusivity. As a Teduray, misconceptions about her identity were inevitable. This was reflected in the simple yet impactful statements she heard, such as, ”Tidulay besen inani?” or ”Ay Teduray ka pala? ” These words had a significant impact on her and other pure-hearted and genuine people like her. From her perspective, these questions suggested that an Indigenous Person like her is alarming to society. Nevertheless, the MSU-Maguindanao community, which fosters peace, lifts her up and makes her feel a sense of inclusivity.

Ms. Fernando knew she would face rough roads, uncertainties, and numerous problems, yet she boldly faced them for her own personal growth and development. Leaving her comfort zone was a difficult decision. She hesitated and felt uncertain many times, yet she persisted in pursuing her academic goals. She knew it would be tiring and possibly uncomfortable, but it was for a shot at a better life rather than an eternity of suffering.

Her fortitude was put to the test as each day presented new difficulties. As she reflected, she realized that every challenge presented an opportunity for her to develop, adjust, and triumph over it. She grew academically, emotionally, and spiritually. She was humbled by her experience at MSU-Maguindanao. Furthermore, she persevered and overcame obstacles with forbearance by clinging to her distinct identity, which is very important to her. She participated in numerous events as coping mechanisms, including training sessions, seminars, and workshops, with a special emphasis on peace and development, to address these difficulties. She attributes her strength and discipline to the guidance and support of her mentors from the Student Renewal Ministry-Dalican Chapter, a registered religious student organization at MSU-Maguindanao.

Her time at MSU-Maguindanao pushed her beyond her comfort zone, encouraging her to explore all aspects of life and break free from self-imposed restrictions. It has also instilled in her a deep sense of gratitude. She appreciates the honor of being at the university and the opportunity to try new things. These experiences did not only enrich her life but also allowed her to positively touch others. MSU-Maguindanao is an esteemed school, and she is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. Choosing to pursue the path to success and face challenges rather than avoiding them has been a critical decision in her journey. Ms. Fernando is one among those MSUans who are grateful for the platform provided by MSU-Maguindanao that fosters growth and development.

At last, she realized that being distanced from her family and hailing from an incredible tribe were not hindrances but powerful motivators to excel and make her people proud, alongside those who supported her along the way. Though she will graduate without Latin honors, the wisdom, discipline, contentment, and the values gained from the institution were more than enough as she surpassed her past doubts and what-ifs. ”Naniniwala ako na sa kabila ng lahat, magtatagumpay ako, sa ngalan ng aking tribo,” she added. Her tribe’s influence has been pivotal in shaping her character and resilience with positivity and optimism. Ms. Fernando trusts in God that He will enable her to overcome any challenges ahead. She remains steadfast, refusing to let negativity hinder her aspirations and dreams; instead, she chooses to surrender to God’s will and trust that everything will unfold in His perfect timing.

The story of Ms. Jeanette Divinagracia Fernando reminds everyone that taking risks is not merely an act of bravery, but a gateway to new possibilities and untapped potential. In a world where the familiar can breed complacency, it is those willing to embrace the unknown who truly stand out and make their mark on the world.