A real test of youth leadership is dealing with pressures especially during the finals week.


UNIV is the international research congress that is offered through all study centers of KALFI. UNIV became my baptism of fire on my final year in college.

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In my four years as an undergraduate student, I only accepted the UNIV Congress in my junior and senior year.

Year after year, I was too scared to accept the challenge of writing an additional ten-page paper, on top of all my academic requirements.

I joined UNIV in my junior year but the paper did not make the cut for the Philippine Final Congress.

Come fourth year, I finally told myself that it was the last time that the opportunity presented itself and I tried it again.

UNIV 2016 Theme: The Family Impact

Fueled with interest in UNIV 2016’s topic: “The Family Impact,” and attending the actual seminar in Rome, I invited friends to join me in the research writing. 

On the first month, after the UNIV launch and during the beginning of the semester, we had begun planning: a narrowed down topic and data collection methods. 


Unfortunately, after that month, I was left to finish the paper alone. “I have more than enough time to finish the paper,” I told myself. But next thing I knew, the first semester was about to come to a close and requirements were piling one on top of the other. I only had a month to complete the research paper.

With the time left, I found secondary sources and a framework that supported them and came up with a ten-page research paper entitled, “Family Resiliency: Strengthening Bonds During Natural Disasters.

In a nutshell, it was a storytelling of several families that experienced hardships of the recent super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), and how they were able to overcome the challenges as a family.

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Once again, my concern for the paper dwindled as finals week loomed closer. During the one-month semestral break, I received an e-mail stating that my paper was accepted for final congress, with major revisions needed. I took the challenge and polished the paper.

Apart from the actual paper, I only had a few weeks to decide if I wanted to attend the actual seminar in Rome, since it was almost the deadline of the payment. When my final semester in college started, it was final: I would be presenting my paper in the Philippine Final Congress in February, and I would participate in the seminar in March.


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My final semester as an undergraduate student began. Among many things, I spearheaded several projects of my organizations, there were only four months until the deadline of my thesis, my other classes had tests and requirements set on dates one week after another.

On top of that, VISA requirements were to be submitted for the seminar in Rome, and the UNIV paper needed major revisions. 

However, given that the most urgent agenda on my list was the final congress, the most challenging task I had to do was to speak in public, having to present my UNIV paper to people on my own, without index cards, and as much as possible, making eye contact with the audience.


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With the dry run a week before the actual event, I rehearsed early.

It took me ten index cards, three versions of my script and several practice audiences until I finally gathered the confidence to present in the actual Final Congress. 

On February 27th, I did it. Ten minutes behind that podium in UA&P was a major accomplishment for me.


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The month of March came, and along with it were my thesis defense and the departure date, both on the same day.

On that week, I spent night after night packing and finalizing our thesis.

Excitement and anxiety built up until Friday, when we successfully defended our thesis and I arrived on time at the airport, right after our thesis defense.

The three-week trip was also an opportunity for me to recharge from the academic load I had just finished.

Although there were still some nights I had to work on a group paper or some parts of my thesis, the adventures we had everyday made up for the sleepless nights. 

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Photo courtesy of UNIV Congress

Moreover, given that Wi-Fi was only available on certain times and was expensive, I had to manage my time wisely on the Internet.

That meant I had to limit my use of social media and work on the requirements that needed Internet sources.

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Photo courtesy of UNIV Congress

Our trip back to the Philippines was a returning to reality for me. Not only did it mean no more waking up to breakfast meals we ate as a group, sightseeing, or the cold Roman weather, but it also meant that

I would have to say goodbye to most of my fellow delegates as we separate ways.

In spite of this, we all shared the same Roman memories that we could all look back to – the times when we lost our way during our sightseeing, the authentic gelatos, pizzas and pastas, the bus rides to towns nearby, and most especially the times I had to cram out group paper and they all cheered me on.

These were the little things that added to the whole experience, which made the UNIV Rome even more worthwhile.

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Looking back at my senior year as an undergraduate student, I’m glad I took on the challenge of writing an UNIV paper.

My capabilities were tested and I improved on my weaknesses. There were times when pessimism seemed to be comforting, but courage, several cups of coffee and most importantly, support from the people I love pushed me forward.

If the families remained resilient during Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), without a doubt, I too was resilient throughout the entire UNIV experience.