Ms. Sharlou M. Beltran l Cum Laude
Bachelor in Secondary Education major in English
Cebu Institute of Technology - University

I have always been spontaneous in responding to casual questions. I do not usually have to think too much or consume minutes to answer - or so I thought. Not until during our Commencement Rites, an innocent offhand question from my friend caught me by surprise. "Shar, after this, WHAT”S NEXT?" there goes the question. I was in awe, not because I don’t really know what to do after our graduation but because Im quite certain that there's more to it than that. I didn't know how to respond. My mind was flipping through the pages of my mental lexicon but it's not much of help. I was still at loss for words. So instead, I literally answered him, "Awww after ani? Daghang Pakals!" We may have had laughed about it but at the back of my mind, that simple question remained unanswered.

Once in a not so distant past, I have always been active in leading people. I became the President of CIT U HS SSG, President of the Federation of Student Leaders in Cebu City Division and Vice-President of the said federation in Region VII. It was no mean feat traversing the magnitude of responsibilities that came along with these concurrent positions but I took all these on with a brave and courageous heart. Along with these responsibilities was the broad spectrum of opportunities which opened up for me. I was sent by AFS Philippines for a one-year intercultural exchange program in Japan. It was the year when I learned a lot of life's lessons.

When I came back from Japan and entered college, my love affair with community service and leadership activities went into full bloom but things are already quite different. College is expensive. Even if I badly wanted to do public service in its purest sense, I cannot just brush off my studies. I needed to maintain an average of 4.5 every semester for me not to lose my academic scholarship. Nevertheless, the fire within me is still burning which urged me to accept the challenge. I still joined several leadership & capability-building sessions such as Young Minds Academy. I also became an officer of several organizations in & out of the campus and the College of Education Representative in SSG as well. In the following year, one cannot imagine the pressure and responsibility I had being the first EDUCATION student who was elected as the SSG President in an ENGNEERING school. But then again, taking responsibilities does not mean neglecting my academic duties. The more I became engaged in extra-curricular activities the more I needed to do well in academics for me to become a whole person worthy of emulation.

I am not here to brag all my affiliations, my point is; as a student if you really wanted to excel in your field you have to go beyond what is expected of you. Learn to gracefully balance academics and non-academics. No dream is too big even for a woman as small as me. Everything is possible through hardwork, prayer and positive attitude. I'm pretty sure that all ten of us CBE Medal of Excellence Awardees have gone through a lot struggles, hell weeks, stressful days, and sleepless nights but I also know that despite those challenges we all chose to soar greater heights & to move forward.

But more than anything else, life is not just about moving forward, it's also about looking back to many people and organizations who helped us maximize the fullest of our potential. With much pride and honor, I daresay that this award goes to all parents who unyieldingly supported us in our journey. To our deans and faculty members who helped us reach for our dreams and of course to Almighty God; for without Him, we'd have nothing and no one else to be thankful for. I hope and I pray that in the next few years, CBE will continue recognizing extraordinary education students who continue to imbibe and inculcate the characteristics and values of an empowered student-leader because in doing such; it means that CBE is not only recognizing the student but also the collaborative effort of the parents, the school and the community. The award that you have given will continuously remind me & my fellow CBE Awardees that we have a very significant role in shaping the lives of the younger generation. This will serve as our prompt reminder that as the prime mover of the educational wheel, we need to continuously strive hard in order to mold and produce globally competitive individuals.

My mental lexicon was not really much of help. It took me few nostalgic moments before I could seriously answer my friend’s question. At the back of my mind, I said, "Perhaps, after receiving such prestigious awards, its payback time". Its about time we give back to our parents, our teachers, our school and our community; making better and sustainable changes.

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