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The Best Graduation Present

A young woman’s graduation photo with a letter she received from the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ).

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a Filipino-American, it’s not unusual to hear “nurse” or “nursing” as the frequently suggested answer. Growing up, I was surrounded by nurses. Even my mom was a nurse and she always came home from her shift with such exciting stories. I could not wait to be a nurse.  

Finding a path to nursing

After high school I went to community college, got my Associate’s Degree and worked in a hospital soon as I could. I wanted a Bachelor’s Degree but I did not want to burden my parents with loans, especially since my younger sister was about to start college. So I buckled down. I worked for a year and saved enough money so the following year I could enroll in school again. And when I finally did, I did it with a full-time job at night. Busy was an understatement. Mondays and Tuesdays – online classes and homework. Wednesdays – laboratory classes. Thursdays and Fridays –  work. All day Sunday and Wednesday evenings – worship services at the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ).

With God, everything is possible

I worked hard but I prayed harder. I knew I could not do this alone. I needed God to help me and see me through, and He did. On the day of my graduation, I had so many feelings. I was overjoyed, satisfied, proud, and thankful. I was overjoyed that I finally finished my degree. I was satisfied that I successfully juggled studying and working full-time. What I was most proud of was that I never stopped in my church duties and responsibilities. And I was thankful that throughout those hard years, God never left me alone. 

The Church I am a member of featured me on a social media post about my achievements. The caption read,

“VIRGINIA, U.S.A. – Congratulations Sister Krisan Eselle Fragata, for graduating Summa Cum Laude in Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University in December 2018. She was a full-time student as well as a full-time Registered Nurse working night shift. She is the Head Secretary of the Local Congregation of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and helps with the District KADIWA activities for the Ecclesiastical District of Washington, D.C. Praises be to God!” 

That post put a smile on my face and it was a lovely ending to that chapter in my life. 

A constant reminder from Brother Eduardo V. Manalo

Not long after, Brother Matthew Capistrano, my District Minister, handed me an envelope. It was addressed to me and read “Office of the Executive Minister, Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), No. 1 Central Avenue New Era, Philippines.” I nervously unfolded the letter. 

“Dear Sister Krisan, 

I would like to congratulate you for graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University. What you have achieved—juggling school and work while prioritizing your Church duty—is not an easy feat. I thank our Lord God for the help he has bestowed on you…” 

I could not believe it. I received a letter from the leader of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ). This was the best graduation present. Of course, I framed the letter and envelope and it sits in my family’s living room. I will treasure it forever not because it makes me feel special but because it is proof that when Brother Eduardo says he loves each member of the Church Of Christ, he means it. He does not know me personally, but he took time out of his schedule to encourage and congratulate me. This letter is also a constant reminder that nothing is impossible and that as long as I take care of my duties in the Church Of Christ, God will always take care of me.

A letter from the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) congratulating a young woman on her graduation.

Krisan lives in Virginia with her family. Outside of the hospital, she loves to help the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation of the Church Of Christ in providing free medical services to underprivileged communities. To learn more about the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) and its medical outreach events, please visit

Krisan Esselle Fragata volunteering at Felix Y. Manalo “Aid to Humanity”event

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