Zamboanga City – COLLEGE graduates of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) were challenged to become exemplars of “hope and heroism” and “to sacrifice personal interest for the good of many” during their two graduation exercises last March 26 and 27.
Keynoting the commencement theme of “The WMSU Graduate: Emergent Leader in Social Entrepreneurship”, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Harvey Keh urged the graduates “to make the Philippines great again”. He was addressed over two thousand graduates of doctoral and masters programs as well as the various colleges of the university taking part in the university’s 63rd commencement exercises at the Dr. Juanito Bruno Gymnasium.
After enumerating the crises of poverty, corruption and rising prices, Keh said that contrary to the sense of hopelessness that these have caused among Filipinos, there is still hope for the country. “Today, we celebrate this hope in each of you”, he told the graduates, since “you are a testament that the Filipino against all odds can achieve anything if he or she works hard and never gives up”.
WMSU President Dr. Grace Rebollos in introducing 28-year old Keh, who was Asia Society’s 21 Young Leaders of Asia in 2006, described him as “an ordinary man with extraordinary courage and big heart to match”. In awarding him a plaque of appreciation, WMSU’s officialdom said they “take pride in recognizing his selfless dedication and commitment for the advancement of quality tertiary education in the country”.
Among his current accomplishments is co-founding and managing AHON Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps improve the skills of Filipino children by building public elementary school libraries. AHON has built nine elementary school libraries todate. Keh also founded Pathways to Higher Education Program –Philippines in 2002, which helps marginalized Filipino students finish higher education through the services of its 30 volunteer groups who, among others, undertake educational reforms
Keh gave “unsolicited advice” to the graduates on the way to becoming social entrepreneurs themselves. These include understanding fully public issues, to use the tools of social media to communicate their personal stance and to get involved in social causes, to stop complaining and instead do something to alleviate social problems, to volunteer to help the poor, and to vote wisely in the 2010 elections. In addition, he pleaded the graduates not to leave the Philippines, but that if they have to, to later sponsor one WMSU student to finish college.