Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thesis the moment, my final test!

Exactly a year ago, I finished my undergraduate thesis. I can still remember the moment when I finally got the approval of my thesis adviser.

I never thought that I would finish my undergraduate thesis and graduate on time.


Being a competitive person, I usually don't decline challenges even if I am aware of the risks. Before we ended our Sophomore life, my batchmates and I attended the orientation in preparation for thesis writing. The usual thesis topics were in the field of Molecular Biology, Botany, Microbiology and Morphometrics... all of them didn't interest me.

But there was one topic that made me interested - Marine Biology.

The only predicament was this - the thesis adviser. Okay, here's a quick background about my thesis adviser:

  • She took BS Biology in UP Visayas ages ago.
  • Took Masters in Biology at the same institute
  • Took PhD in Marine Biology at Japan (forgot the name of the uni)
  • She's notorious for giving a handful of 5.0s to students. James Ingram's Just Once perfectly matches the situation. "I did my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough". Your "best" is either 3.0 or 5.0. Maswerte lang kung naka-removals ka pa.

Yes, I'm pretty aware about her but it didn't intimidate me at all. After the orientation, I introduced myself and told her that I am very interested to be part of her Holothuria scabra (sea cucumber) study. She gave me a 'Doctor Evil' smile.


No one dared to take her study but me. I never thought that it was THAT hard. I did my experiments alone under the heat of the sun. I swam on a meter-high murky salty pond alone. And every month during night time, I have to swim on the murky pond... on pitch black alone. There were no lights within the 6,000 sq meter pond area except for my flash light (sea cucumbers are nocturnal marine creatures by the way).

The first three months of my experiment went well until on April 2010, the pond's temperature rose as high as 40 degrees Celsius due to El Nino. Obviously, my juvenile sea cucumbers (a hundred of them) died.

It was so depressing and I didn't know what to do next.

So I consulted my adviser about my predicament and followed her one and only solution: REPEAT the whole process.

Although, the data for my first experiment would still count, the thought of repeating the whole process was pretty much stressful.

Time was running out.


The data gathering, including the sediment analysis, ended on early 2011. It was an easy task but analyzing it was the opposite.

I barely had months before the deadliest deadline. I got pressured after majority of my classmates finished their thesis defense. I got so envious because they were already one step closer to the finish line. I, on the other hand had to untangle the strings of confusion and turmoil of my thesis. I was so desperate that I have to finish my manuscript no matter what. I was also deprived of sleep for three months.

Everything got worse when one of my panelists suggested to use SPSS (a statistical analysis program) to analyze my data. Hell, I didn't know how to use that program. I had no choice but to download the program and learn how to use it via YouTube (thank God for online tutorials). I didn't expect that I'd use a lot of statistical methods. Well, at least it gave me an idea on how to interpret those figures.

My thesis defense was a pathetic one, to be honest. God, I was so nervous that I spoke caveman English during my defense. But fortunately, they didn't require me to defend my thesis AGAIN.

After my defense came the major revisions of my manuscript. I think it took me four reams of substance 20 bond paper before I came up with my final paper.


Fast forward. Everyone had already approved my thesis manuscript - my two Panelists, the Department Chair, the Committee Chair of Research, Development and Extension, the Dean and the College Secretary.

All but one didn't sign - my thesis adviser.

I don't know what happened. Everyone signed it but she thought that it wasn't perfect and needed further revision. I went to her office at around 3PM of April 4 but stayed there until 3AM of April 5. I was on the verge of giving up. Tears started to swell up as I edit my manuscript. My parents sent me a message on Facebook, telling me to hold on and just do my best.

Finally after 12 hours of waiting and editing my manuscript, she signed my paper. Maybe because she grew tired of me. She had high standards and there's no way that I could reach it. But what matters most, I finally got her approval.


This is what I wrote on my Facebook wall exactly a year ago:

Thesis the moment, my final test! 
I have waited for this day to come. 
I have never been this happy. Genuine happiness. 
You know, for almost two years, I have struggled, fell down, found the light, stood up and mustered enough courage to finish this. Two weeks ago, I was on the verge of giving up, to be honest. I thought that I won't be able to beat the deadliest deadline of submitting the four hardbound copies of my thesis. I really THOUGHT that I won't graduate this April 18. I told myself that I shouldn't disappoint my parents. I have already made a promise that I'll graduate on time. 
But, all is well. I made it to the finish line. ALL IS WELL. 
I just remembered something. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and the heat of the sun was just unbearable. I was doing some important things for my thesis experiment. I was swimming on the middle of a 6,000 square meter marine pond, measuring the dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature and took some sediment samples alone. I even asked myself, "Did I make the right decision of pursuing this study? 
Don't get me wrong, I didn't have any regrets of taking Dr. Gamboa's study. I have learned so many things aside from the biology and ecology of Holothuria scabra. This study had tested my PATIENCE. I have never thought of spending 12 hours inside the faculty room (with my adviser) just to polish my final draft. 
Well, I guess this is going to be my MOST MEMORABLE experience in UP. I still can't believe that I made it. One thing for sure, I didn't give up and I finished it. 
It's over. Finally, it's over.  
It was indeed the longest journey of my life. :,)

My university life officially ended last April 18, 2011. It felt surreal when I received my diploma from the chancellor.

You know, I learned so many things from this experience.

(1) When you have already decided of pursuing something, there's no turning back. Life doesn't have a 'pause' or 'rewind' buttons.

(2) In life, you encounter two kinds of people - those who are friendly and those who are hard to handle. You just have to be patient.

(3) Problems arise at some point of your life. Giving up is not a wise option, most especially if you haven't looked for possible solutions. I believe that every problem has a solution; and

(4) If you think you cannot do it, think again. Look around you. Someone out there has predicaments bigger than yours. Still, they try to live life to the fullest. Do not ever think that you are weak and helpless. Everything is possible only if you believe in yourself.

When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.

Let's live life to the fullest!


  1. Congrats dearest!!! :)
    Finally, all those hard work has paid off well! :)

  2. Late congrats ba Cai? Hehehe

  3. Congratulations! I remember my own undergrad thesis struggles. One thing I learned: the more stress you had, the sweeter is the fact that you are, finally, undeniably, graduating. (That blank word file is a winner! Haha)

  4. Oh my, the graduation was a year ago! Still, my previous comment pretty much holds true. :D

  5. Hahahaha! After collecting my data, I was like, "What now?!" Kaya blank yung RD page ko haha