In line with this year's commencement exercises' theme "Patuloy sa Pagtataguyod ng Karunungan, Kaunlaran at Kadakilaan," the PLM administration introduced three new awards that were conferred on outstanding members of the graduating Class of 2017. Given during the Baccalaureate Service that was held on April 19, the three awards carried with them cash prizes.
The first award, the Atty. Erlinda Espiritu Gawad ng Karunungan was put up by Dr. Benjamin I. Espiritu, the chairman of the PLM Board of Regents, in honor of his mother Atty. Erlinda Espiritu. The first woman to be accepted in the prestigious Harvard Law School where she earned her Master of Laws degree, Atty. Espiritu was an accomplished lawyer who used her learning – her karunungan – to serve others.
Given to the graduating PLM student with the most outstanding academic record, this award, together with its cash prize of P20,000, was bestowed on Christina Romella N. Uy, the valedictorian of the Class of 2017.
The Gawad ng Kaunlaran was the second award that was unveiled during the Baccalaureate Service. Created to honor the graduating PLM student who has displayed outstanding creativity, passion and skill to come up with an innovative project that promotes progress, this new award, together with its cash prize of P20,000, was put up by the PLM vice presidents.
This year, however, the University Executive Committee, headed by President Ma. Leonoara V. de Jesus and composed of all the PLM vice presidents, decided to give the award, not just to one graduating student, but to a team of graduating students: Team Kimpossible. Made up of Jan Kimberly J. Aquino, Jeissel Denise C. Flores, Alice T. Marasigan, and Camille I. Soriano, all from the Computer Science Department of the College of Engineering and Technology, this four-man team used their knowledge of technology to create an application that made them National Grand Champion and a World Semifinalist in the Innovation Category of the 2016 Microsoft Imagine Cup.
The third award was the Justice Conrado M. Vasquez Sr. Gawad ng Kadakilaan that President de Jesus put up to honor the legacy of her father, a legal luminary who became a well-respected and widely admired member of the Bench. After serving as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals and then as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, he came out of retirement to become the country's first Ombudsman.
This new award was created to honor the graduating student who best personifies the indomitable will to overcome all odds, the unshakeable commitment to follow one's dreams whatever the cost, the spirit of kadakilaan that drives one to be the very best that one can be – undeterred by poverty, by age or even by physical disability.
This year, the Justice Conrado M. Vasquez Sr. Gawad ng Kadakilaan, together with its cash prize of P25,000, was given to Ian Sinfuego who, despite a disability that would have defeated most people, persevered to finish his studies. Over the entire five years of his Computer Engineering course, he was able to maintain his good standing as a PLM and DOST scholar, and ended up as second best among the graduating batch of the BSCpE program.