Lessons from a Farmer’s Daughter


[First in a series: Valedictory addresses from the different colleges of the University of Northern Philippines are here featured as excellent graduates reflect on the journey behind them and as they forward to the next.]

As the only summa cum laude of the UNP College of Teacher Education Class of 2024, Karen Nicole Somera shared the lessons she learned growing up as a farmer’s daughter. Through her personal story, she distilled the keys to living a fulfilling life: try, love, and learn.

Trying, Even When It’s Hard

Somera recounted how she witnessed the hard work and sacrifice required to be a farmer, as her father would wake up at dawn and return home exhausted each day. But she realized that life itself is like farming – it requires pouring one’s heart out and patiently waiting for the results.

Somera acknowledged that the road is never easy, but emphasized the importance of continuing to try, even in the face of failure. She shared her own experiences of failing many times, such as not advancing in the Miss Ilocos Sur pageant. However, she emphasized that true failure only comes when you stop trying altogether. Somera encouraged her fellow graduates to find the courage to keep going and achieve their goals, no matter the obstacles.

Loving with Your Whole Heart

Somera’s father always supported her dream of becoming a teacher, even though many questioned the decision. She realized that to be a great educator, one must teach with the heart, not just knowledge. She emphasized that love should extend beyond the classroom – we must have a genuine heart to serve our loved ones and be a light to our community.

By loving themselves and their choices, Somera advised the graduates to take pride in their accomplishments, forgive themselves for shortcomings, and embrace their flaws. She encouraged them to surf the waves of life and choose their battles wisely.

Learning as a Lifelong Journey

The final key to Somera’s recipe for life is learning. She shared how the SEAMEO program – through which she was with Udon Thani Rajabhat University as a teaching intern – opened her eyes to the depths of education and the realization that learning happens beyond the classroom through experience and life lessons. She emphasized the importance of grabbing opportunities for growth, even if it’s scary, and coming out of one’s shell.

Somera acknowledged that life is full of ups and downs, failures and successes. However, she believes these experiences are crucial for growth and learning. The valedictorian advised her fellow graduates to find time to celebrate their wins, take breaks when needed, and reflect on their journeys so far.

Somera reminded the class of 2024 to continue trying, loving, and learning as they embark on the next chapter. She encouraged them to thank their loved ones who supported them along the way. In so doing, the graduates are well-equipped to plant the seeds of their dreams and reap a bountiful harvest.


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