Graduate School of International Relations Valedictorian: Cuya, Irene Angela Valones

International University of Japan Graduation Ceremony 2022

Honorable guests, Chairman Utsuda, President Itami, Dean Myoe and Dean Lee, Faculty, Friends, family, guests, and especially, the graduates, the class of 2022. — A pleasant morning to all of you.

Two years ago, most of us may have been worrying whether we will be able to go to Japan for our graduate studies here in IUJ. We faced a lot of uncertainties. We studied in an environment we had never been before. But we fought hard and worked hard to rise to the challenges before us. Today, as I see our class gathered in this hall, it is a proof that we all had succeeded. And with that, please allow me say: Congratulations, my fellow graduates. A job well done!

It is my great honor and privilege to stand before you to deliver a speech on behalf of the GSIR Class of 2022. I am grateful for this opportunity. And as I think of what I want to share with you today, I can’t help but recall what has happened in the past two years.

For the world, it is a pandemic. But for us sitting in this hall, it is our IUJ life. We recall moments when we attended classes online and how we struggle from slow internet. We recall attending TA sessions and hear sounds of pots and children as students strike a balance between studies and family life. And recall the unforgettable take home and open book exams that would make us stare blankly for hours.

We recall the excitement when we finally had our first face-to-face class and the eagerness to meet our classmates in person. We longed to learn together with these great people from all over the world. And as we settle down in IUJ, we recall thinking about our family and loved ones back home. We recall missing local foods in our country which are difficult to cook here. We recall being home sicked.

But we also remember when we found our circle of friends. We eat together, study together, celebrate successes together, and explore together. We even recall times when we exchange ideas and beliefs that even sometime ended up with heated debates. We cherish all these moments

Then in the latter part of our academic life, we recall sleepless nights because of thesis and research reports. We smile as we remember being anxious as we walk towards our supervisor’s office or when we wait for them in the zoom for a meeting. And no one can ever forget how relieved we were when we finally handed our final reports to OAA.

These are day-to-day moments that have slowly molded us to becoming who we are two years fast forward to today. When we first stepped out of our comfort zones, we faced challenges and hardships. But we overcome our fears, we learn from others, and in the end, we grew and flourished.

As we recall these fond memories, let us not forget those people who helped us along the way. I thank IUJ, particularly its management and staff for having us here and taking care of us. Thank you to our professors for sharing your expertise in your respective fields. To my supervisor, Professor Jim Lin – I felt words were not enough to really convey my gratitude to him. Nevertheless, as I stand here, I would like to say once again “thank you, Professor.” And to the supervisors of my fellow graduates, I thank you all on behalf of them.

Last but not the least, thanks to our families and friends both here and back home. They never failed to give their support and helping hand in times of need. For someone like me who is away from my family, I am truly grateful to my new-found friends and especially the Filipino community for being my second family here in IUJ. You will be all missed.

As we part ways, we are all moving towards a new chapter of our life. As like in the past, the future is unknown. The times are dark. But always remember to look back. And as my friends have put it in words, let us recall our IUJ moments – IUJ for “Individual Unique Journey”. Remember that our I.U.J. in IUJ has made us stronger and braver and more knowledgeable than we were before.

I would like to end my speech with a quote from Hellen Keller. And I quote: “Keep your face always towards the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you.” Amidst the darkness that surrounds us, may we all move forward with hope and remembering all the lessons we had from our I.U.J. in IUJ.

Once again, congratulations to the Class of 2022.

Click here to watch the speech