On the ceremony stage, Ivanka Poplin, a top student in the University of New Capital City’s music department, was delivering her graduation speech with her father standing right beside her. Both father and daughter were teary-eyed and filled with emotion for the four years of university life.
“Ivanka’s father is so handsome! And he’s so young too!”
“Ivanka is the most beautiful student on campus, so it’s pretty obvious that she inherited her parents’ good genes!”
“Whoa, Ivanka’s father said he’d donate three pianos to the school’s music department! They’re so rich!”
“I really envy Ivanka’s life! She has such an amazing family background, her parents dote on her a lot, and she’s both pretty and smart!”
Ivanka delivered her graduation speech with her father and she went down the stage feeling pride as she listened to the praise and envy of her peers
Backstage, she saw Corinne sitting quietly at the end for her turn to go on stage.
According to international practice, the person who went on stage last was generally the most important. Ivanka was incredibly unhappy with that arrangement, but she did not dare to protest when she heard that it was the dean who arranged it.
After thinking for a while, Ivanka walked toward Corinne and asked an obvious question, “Did you come on your own today?”
Corinne nodded and said, “Yeah.”
Ivanka said sympathetically, “I heard from my classmates that you’re an illegitimate daughter who was left in the countryside by your family, and you were only accepted into a university in the city. because of your motivation and diligence! You must’ve suffered a lot when you were abandoned at such a young age. Just thinking about it is miserable enough already! Guess it doesn’t come as a surprise then that you’re such a hard worker, Corinne. Your parents never took care of you, so you can only rely on yourself! I’m glad I don’t have to work as hard as you, and my parents dote on me very much. They’ll give me whatever I ask for!”
Corinne smiled. “Really? Do you plan on relying on them even after you graduate?”
Ivanka felt choked all of a sudden and frowned unhappily. “I merely wanted to show concern for you, Corinne. I meant you no harm when I said that, but you just had to respond with hurtful words! My father was right: there’s always something about poor people that makes them hateful!”
When the emcee at the front announced Corinne’s name, she ignored Ivanka and walked past her
to go on stage.
Corinne first thanked her alma mater, then her lecturers, and proceeded to look back on her time in university before ending with a summary of her growth. She got on the stage sans makeup, yet her demeanor was calm and her smile was confident. Her graduation speech was captivating due to her great sense of humor. The lecturers and students in the audience burst into laughter, yet at the same time, they were teary-eyed too. It was much unlike the hypocritical appreciation
speeches of the previous graduates, which were emotional only for the speech-giver.
There were some whispers in the audience.
“That’s exactly what you’d expect from top student Corinne. Her graduation speech really was touching!”
“Now that you mention it, Corinne might not have a good background like Ivanka does, but she’s still a star student nonetheless!”
“I should point out that Corinne embodies the true nature of a star student because she hails from the math department. She’s much prettier than Ivanka too!”
“No matter how pretty and smart she is, she’s still an illegitimate daughter! Didn’t you know that she came here by herself today because none of her parents were willing to accompany her to attend her graduation?”
“I heard that she was born from an affair that her father had with another woman! Apples don’t fall far from the tree, and I believe she’s not that bad of a person in private!”
Ivanka, who had already returned to sit with the other students, pulled the arm of one of her peers and said hypocritically, “Oh! Don’t say that! Corinne has such a pitiful life! Even if she did do something she was ‘forced to’, it was because she had to survive!”
Though she had a sympathetic look on her face, her heart was leaping for joy.
Before Ivanka went to university, she had always been the center of attention wherever she went. That changed when she entered the same university as Corinne, and she was eventually relegated to Corinne’s shadow after Corinne secured the top spot in the national university entrance
At long last, she found out that Corinne could never compare to her in two aspects: family and background.
Those two aspects were something that Corinne could never shake off!
Corinne’s graduation speech was not over yet when the university auditorium suddenly became strangely quiet.
After a few minutes of silence, everyone started whispering again.
“Look! The man who just stepped onto the stage is so handsome!”
“Goodness me! Who is that? I’ve never seen someone so handsome in my life!”