On March 24, 2001, Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog graduated as summa cum laude and valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Mathematics. She delivered her valedictory address "Seeing in the Dark by the Light of the Stars" at the commencement exercises of the Ateneo de Manila University.
Born on January 12, 1980 to Gemme F. Ambubuyog of Pandan, Antique, and Deannah R. Ambubuyog of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Roselle is the youngest of their four children, and their only daughter. She has consistently attained the highest honors in school, also graduating as valedictorian from her elementary school and from Ramon Magsaysay High School. She has won all other awards possible for a graduating Ateneo student: the President's Award for Service and Excellence, the St. Ignatius Award for Outstanding Scholar, and the departmental award for mathematics. Outside of the university, she received the Jose Rizal Model Student award from the Knights of Rizal Supreme Council and a science award from Bank of the Philippine Islands.
What are Roselle's achievements extraordinary? Because Roselle has been blind for the past 16 years, starting when she was only seven years old. She has not been spared from the taunts, snubs, and brickbats thrown at her by cynics and critics. However, despite the ill treatments, she has survived and has surfaced as a winner and an inspiration to others. She believes that people should not give up trying. "If we recognize that some of the disappointments we have are actually stepping stones, there's no reason to lose. We're bound to win."
When Roselle was asked by the committee that deliberated for the Class of 2001 valedictorian why she thought she should be chosen among the six candidates, she replied, "All of us have our own disabilities. Mine is more obvious. I can represent what it means to go beyond one's limitations with determination, perseverance, the help of others, and the grace of God."
Her valedictory address sums it up: "I had close encounters with disabled students, particularly blind children who had lost their sight due to radiation in chemotherapy. I wanted to let them see in me the hope that lies for them and for all those whose fate seems to have taken a bad turn."
"The light of the stars" that gives Roselle her sight in the dark are her loved ones---her immediate family and relatives. She says that our loved ones are the greatest shining stars in our lives and that God's grace and divine power are made manifest through the loving acts of these special people. They help us bear the burdens brought about by our weaknesses. " We may find ourselves in the dark, but we should not be afraid to move forward because we have the light of our stars to count on and to be thankful for."
This youth achiever has indeed got her act together. Roselle has reversed the roles for us by being our shining star to help us see in the dark as we wade through our own kind of disabilities and weaknesses and triumph over them.
- By Thelma Mantac Ramos, Washington USA
Some Information: Courtesy of Basil C. Ambubuyog