HE may already be playing basketball professionally, but Jeric Fortuna made sure he didn’t miss the crowning glory of his studies at University of Santo Tomas (UST).
And so on Wednesday, Fortuna was among the thousands of students who attended their graduation ceremonies right at the very same place which served as his home during his stay in the Dominican school – the UST gymnasium, now popularly known as the Quadricentennial Pavilion.
Fortuna proudly wore his toga as he marched on stage together with former Tigers teammates Jeric Teng and Chris Camus before their respective families, friends, and relatives.
The spitfire point guard is currently playing for Barako Bull in the PBA, while Teng is with Rain or Shine.
Although beaming with pride, Fortuna at the same time had mixed emotions as graduation also meant finally leaving behind the institution that helped mold him into the person he is today.
“I will miss UST, I will miss the classes, the practices, the people, the events,” said Fortuna.
The Barako Bull playmaker actually graduated as early as March of last year, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree major in marketing management.
But his stint with San Miguel Beer in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) kept him from attending the graduation rites.
This time, Fortuna made sure he marched along with former teammates Teng and Camua.
“It's a once in a lifetime experience so I decided to join this year's graduation,” he said.
The 22-year-old Fortuna even played on the eve of their graduation, scoring five points and helping the Energy eke out a stunning 92-90 upset of the San Mig Mixers in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Teng, on the other hand, played for the Elasto Painters a few hours after the ceremony, but left the game early after hurting his shoulder following a collision with Meralco’s Chris Hodge. Rain or Shine won, 96-79.
Fortuna said since the completion of his studies, he has not returned to UST until his graduation day.
“I'm thankful because if not for UST I will not be where I am now,” he said.
Someday, Fortuna said wants to give back to the institution that made him who he is.
“Now, I'm just doing my best in the PBA to make UST proud.”