“We should not forget to ask help from the Lord to accomplish great things,” said Filipino student Jared Lucenta, who was chosen as graduation speaker for the Spring 2017 Commencement. He said he will base his graduation speech on President Thomas Monson’s quote, “Our future is as bright as our faith.”
Lucenta shared the most important aspect of his university life is his family. He started as a single student and said his school work was good. But when he got married and had a son, he was more inspired to study. “My family made my studies more joyful, and I became more motivated to do better in school. I was not only thinking about myself; I put my family on top of my priority list.”
Lucenta said he could not believe he was chosen to speak because he is a quiet person and is not good at public speaking. He is honored and grateful to be given the chance to speak in behalf of the graduating students, he added.
“I received an email asking me to meet with the Vice President of Academics, Dr. John D. Bell,” said Lucenta. He said he thought it was a survey for graduating students. “When I told my wife about it, she got scared and asked me if I did something wrong. It felt like I was called to the principal’s office,” he said while laughing.
Rebecah Lucenta, Jared’s wife and a senior studying social work from the Philippines, said she is very proud of her husband. “He deserves it,” she said. “Jared really worked hard for this, and he is very good in balancing his time with his family and studies.”
“I feel jealous because I am not graduating yet,” Rebecah said while laughing. “Jared is a very humble person to the point that we can’t believe he is the graduation speaker.”
Jared explained small classes made his studies easier and fun. “Accounting is hard, but through the personal relationship built with my teachers, it helped me forget about all the stress in class.”
Lucenta shared the advice he learned from an alumnus to study two weeks in advance for each class. He said, “Studying in advance has helped me participate in class discussions. I also create a questionnaire based on the book and my notes to test myself.
“I also sacrificed most of my Saturdays to study, but I regret it because I missed some activities. Since it is my last semester, I am making the most out of my time here to explore Oahu more.”
Rebecah said her husband is very into studying, unlike her. “He inspires me and always reminds me to do my best.”
Lucenta explained how he surpassed one struggle as a college student and a father. “My wife had postpartum depression. Our baby experienced seizures and we thought he was going to die,” he said.
“We went to three emergency rooms. A Mormon ad came to my mind that says: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you.” Through faith and constant prayer, he said his son is now in good condition.
Rebecah shared her husband’s advice to her every time they encounter trials: “He would always say to have faith, just do your best, and God will do the rest.” She added, “Being married to him is a blessing because I learned a lot.
“Our experience here is very meaningful in so many ways. We learned a lot from our hardships, but we always believed that at the end of the rain is a rainbow,” added Rebecah. “We had a hard time financially. Jared would always remind me about the miracle of tithing. It always works.”
Adreil Maguale, a freshman from the Philippines majoring in business management, said Lucenta was already a consistent honor student in the Philippines before he even came to BYUH. “I am not surprised that he is graduating summa cum laude because I already expected he would be able to reach it,” he said. “Since he has a family, I was just a little worried because I know it is hard to balance it with school. I am happy he is graduating with honors.”
Lucenta was Maguale’s youth leader, and both went on the same mission according to Maguale. “He is favored of the Lord. I look up to him so much, and I even call him prophet because he is so righteous,” Maguale added.
Maguale said Lucenta made a huge impact in his life. He said, “He was my inspiration on my mission. Even though he was a consistent honor student, he was willing to cut all the benefits from school to go on a mission. There was a point in my life when I wanted to finish my studies first, but Jared inspired me to go on a mission.”
“He also inspired me to go to BYUH.” Maguale said. “When I was on my mission, I heard he was going to BYUH. I was inspired to go and took the Michigan test on my mission. Now I am here.”
Maguale shared he once went to Lucenta’s house in the Philippines and saw a board filled with goals that had a specific year to finish a mission, go to BYUH, and get married. He said, “I even asked his mom how did they raise Jared to become who he is now.
“When we were in youth, Jared was a bully, but he had a mighty change of heart. His mom told me that Jared would lock himself in his room and read the scriptures. He also inspired me to read the scriptures everyday.”
Being able to graduate from BYUH is a dream come true, said Lucenta. “I am grateful to all the people who donated and made I-WORK available. Given the financial circumstance we have back home, I was able to come attend here.”
Lucenta said, “I am very happy to be part of this great university and meet international people who are willing to help. Professors were always there to help willingly. Even though a class is hard, they make it simple and fun for students.
“The education offered here in BYUH is not only academic. It is all about everything. I get to balance both secular and spiritual aspects in life.”
Lucenta gave a smile when he said, “You cannot just pray and chill. You have to do your part to attain your goals.
“I am graduating with my family. Throughout my whole BYUH experience, I felt the Lord’s help. The Lord poured so many blessings to us, especially to our son.”
After graduation, Lucenta is going to do his academic training with the Institutional Research Department on campus. He said he recently received an email about the position and was not expecting it. “I was looking for accounting positions, but they emailed me without my knowledge about it,” he added.
Lucenta garnered academic acclaim by graduating Summa Cum Laude, becoming SAP certified, and being a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society while studying accounting.
NOTE: This story's online publishing was delayed because it was featured in the June 2017 print issue.