It's crazy...

The other day I was walking to the HUB, minding my business when some random person calls out my name.

“Hey Eddie!" 

It was this guy sitting with his friends at a table and i thought to myself, "Who the hell is this guy?” I mean, he did look familiar. Probably a face from my hall during my first year, or perhaps a party i went to, or a meeting on campus. 

I did what any confused person would do and simply asked, “Sorry I forgot your name, what was it again?" 

The guy said his name and he told me he went to KE13 the previous year! 

No doubt i felt like an ass. I didn’t even recognize one of my KE kids! Granted, there were 60 of them that (Imagine how much harder teachers have it). Anyways, I find out that he goes to UCR now as a first year and is dorming in the same res hall I was in (WEST LO, YOU KNOW!) But what was really shocking to me during this whole experience was what he said next…

"Actually, KE was one of the reasons I chose to come to UCR.”

That’s crazy. I was speechless. To see the purpose of my event, which is to “promote higher education and to inspire them to want to reach for it,” become a reality really opened my eyes. To see one of the students that attended this event really take that to heart and act upon it, was truly humbling. 

My whole philosophy on planning this event was to do it for that one person. That one person that will take this experience with them for the rest of their lives and use it to help them create who they want to be. After KE13, I gradually realized that it didn’t just affect one person, but it affected them all. 

From the Kid that didn’t say one word during group discussions that ended up asking me if he could perform last minute in front of 120 people.

From that Kid that saw that they weren’t alone in their struggles and became comfortable enough to open up to their group.

From that Kid that finally accepted who they were and was able to find happiness and peace.

From the Kid that wanted to take hold of this once-in-a-lifetime experience known as “college” and embrace it.

And to those who took this experience and was inspired enough to want to give back and give this opportunity to the next generation. 

I may not be Outreach Director anymore, but KE13 still hasn’t ended. I’m still making the connections. It’s still continuing to open my eyes to a bigger world. It’s still putting my life in perspective. It’s still causing me to want to make a difference in other people’s lives. I may not know what i’m doing with my life career-wise yet, but i do know i like what i’ve done with my life so far.

“Inspire the next generation to carry on your legacy" 

-Eddie Bernardo


The Katipunan Experience 2013: Making the Connection

If you know me, the 8 words above had been all I thought about for over 8 months. It’s been about 3 weeks since the event & this is the only time I get to reflect on it. 2 days, 60 high school students, around 40 college students. I was responsible for all of them. 

First off, this event wasn’t even supposed to happen this year. There were so many obstacles that stood in the way of making this event possible. It came to the point where I noticed a pattern every time it happened. I would literally solve one problem, then have about 5 seconds of relief, then another wall would pop right up in front of me, saying “Nope, it’s not that easy. Let’s see you solve this next challenge”

Challenge accepted. I was tested to my limits, mentally & physically. Working out every detail, listing out every possible outcome of my actions, watching every little step I was taking to make sure it was the right move. Some times, I would blindly make a decision, not knowing what would happen. Looking back on it, I’m glad I took those chances. I’m glad I took on this responsibility to create something that ended up meaning the world to even one student out of those 60. At times, there was that little voice in the back of my mind saying, “Yknow, you could just cancel it, it’s too much to handle, you can’t do it. You don’t even know these kids, why punish yourself helping someone you don’t even know?” THAT was exactly why I didn’t give up. I grew up through HSCs,  that’s where I stepped out of MY comfort zone and realized who I am. What if those coordinators gave up when they were planning their HSC?  I was one of those kids that needed these types of events. 

But this wasn’t a high school conference. When I first started planning KE13 out, I treated it as a HSC, because that was what I knew. I knew workshops, speakers, small groups, ice breakers, talent shows. But after that first day when we had Common Ground & I heard all these students step out of their comfort zone, I knew this was something far different than a typical HSC, this was an EXPERIENCE

We live our lives by experiencing it. We don’t live our lives, we experience it. We make mistakes, we learn from them, we meet people and we make a connection with them. We choose to keep them as a part of our lives. We make choices & those choices shape who we become. We either choose to take a risk or not, & we have to deal with the consequences of our actions. 

The 60 high school students were meant to be at KE13. Reading reflections sheets that they filled out meant so much to me. Seeing how mature they were and how much they took from these 2 days was proof enough that EVERYTHING was worth it. It made me smile from ear to ear seeing how much it helped each students realize something that they did not know before KE13. 

This all came from me, my mind, my ideas, my designs, my vision. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a vanity project. If anything, I was the one who learned the most out of this experience. I found out things about myself that I wouldn’t have known a year ago. Every other week, I would have meetings with important people that I had to be professional with, I needed to coordinate meetings with other students. Get ahold of speakers, showcase talents and just overall help. I am so grateful for everyone that helped me this year. I may be reflecting on what I did, but what really made KE13 great was the people that helped me throughout every struggle. My committee, Katipunan Cabinet & my friends. 

I came to the realization about something I had never thought about since my senior year of high school. I AM A LEADER. Bayanihan made me that way. I enjoy planning things out. My passion is to inspire others & I have the dedication to make things happen, no matter what. KE13 was such a blessing, not only to me, but to everyone who was a part of it. I will never forget it. I made the connection.