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International Student’s Graduation Speech Goes Viral 

International Student’s Graduation Speech Goes Viral 

May 6, 2021

International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) international student, Dyan Suaco’s stirring graduation speech has gone viral. Her heartfelt message of forgiveness and resilience has struck a chord with fellow international students and touched the hearts of Australians.

The petite Filipino delivered her speech “To Forgive and Be Forgiving” at the ICMS Graduation Ceremony which took place last month at the higher education institute’s “Castle on the Hill” campus in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, NSW. ICMS staged three separate graduation ceremonies on 16 April in accordance with Covid-19 safety regulations. The ceremonies were live-streamed for offshore graduates and supporters who were unable to attend in person.

Suaco’s inspiring speech gained her a spontaneous standing ovation from her fellow graduates as well as the ICMS Board of Directors, academic faculty, CEO Rowan Courtney-O’Connor, Professional Scholarships Chair Ann Whitelock Courtney-O’Connor and ICMS Founder Darryl Courtney-O’Connor.

The YouTube video has since been posted on numerous platforms and has gone viral. For example, the speech posted on The Philippine Times (Australia) Facebook page has been viewed over 305,000 times, has attracted over 22,000 ‘likes’ and has been shared over 3,200 times (as at 10 May 2021).

Of the many comments, most offering congratulations to Suaco having achieved her post-graduate degree, many are also from fellow international students who thank her for inspiring and encouraging them as they face the challenges of studying amid a global pandemic. 

“Congratulations, ur such an inspiration to ur fellow filipino students who are still fighting for their dreams amidst this crisis..may the good Lord continue bless u (sic),” Raffy Dela Cruz Bugaring posted. 

“Wow your story is very inspiring, we are proud of you as a your fellow filipino. Mabuhay ka (sic),” Trevor Willemstad posted.

Condolences were also offered on the passing of Suaco’s mother in the midst of her studies, a challenge she weathered with grace and courage. 

“Wow what a powerful speech of young and beautiful Dyan! You are an inspiration not only to Filipinos but to everyone around the world,” Facebook user Evelyn Unwin posted. “Despite your mum’s medical condition you persevered and your determination to finish your degree paid off. Your mother I am sure is always watching over you happily in heaven! God bless you and continue with your journey whatever it maybe after your graduation. (sic)” 

Not only was it a memorable speech but Suaco gave the audience an “important insight into the resilience of international students and the sacrifices that achieving one’s goals can sometimes demand,” according to ICMS CEO Rowan Courtney O’Connor.

“Dyan’s speech is a testament to the resilience of international students during these challenging times. She has become an accidental voice of Australia’s international students and we couldn’t be prouder of her.” 

Beginning her ICMS journey in 2018, Suaco made the move from her home country of the Philippines to the ICMS campus in Manly. She has notched up an extensive list of successes during her time at ICMS, including receiving a Postgraduate Innovation Scholarship, becoming the 2018 Student Representative Council (SRC) Vice President, and working as a volunteer Student Experience Associate.

She has made such a good impression at ICMS that in February 2021 she was offered a staff member position in the ICMS City Campus as a Student Engagement and Administration Officer.

“As an international student, now an international representative, I have a multitude of perspectives of the situation around us…. Because the ongoing trauma in my mind has moulded the desire for me to empathise with those who are still suffering, wailing, and hoping for change. Because as someone who had the privilege of earning a second degree through the immense support of this international college, I hope for the chance to change the globally divided system,” Suaco said. 

“To the graduates of 2021 here before me and behind the screens, I have shared with you my story, our story, and the current conditions that span the world. May we all continue to conquer our battles be it within us and among us. And if the world has been and would certainly be unforgiving, may we all remember to forgive and be forgiving.”

To watch Dyan Suaco’s speech, click here:


* Note to editors: Dyan Suaco is available for interviews. Please direct any enquiries through [email protected]