Justin Cabanos: Enabling Success

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Justin Cabanos, '19, who comes from a long line of college graduates, knows that "success is never truly your own."

Justin Cabanos asked his mother what she wanted for Mother’s Day. Flowers? Chocolate? A card? “She told me ‘getting to hear you speak at Commencement is a good enough gift for me,’” said Cabanos. “She’s never said anything like that before.”

Cabanos is the student speaker at the afternoon ceremony of the 2019 UW Tacoma Commencement. “I really felt like I needed to say thank you,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned during my time here is that success is never truly your own. I’ve had a lot of support along the way.”

Cabanos came to UW Tacoma as a junior in the fall of 2017. He earned his high school diploma and associate’s degree at the same time thanks to the Running Start program.  He had the option to attend UW Seattle but chose this campus instead. “Going north meant not being able to see my family for long stretches of time,” he said. “I couldn’t go a month or two without seeing them.”

Born in the Philippines, Cabanos spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Spanaway and Puyallup. He comes from a long line of college graduates. “My dad went to medical school in the Philippines and my mom also got her bachelor’s there,” said Cabanos. “My grandparents, uncles, aunts, all have some sort of degree.”

Cabanos is the third of four children. “I remember my older siblings talking about college and I just couldn’t wait to get started,” he said. “I understood college to be a place where you could study what interested you.”

The cost of Cabanos's education has been supported, in part, by an Allan and Judith Trinkwald Endowed Scholarship. During his time on campus, he has been involved with Campus Adult Ministries, the Filipino Student Association and the Ping Pong Club.  He also worked as a Pack Advisor assisting new students as they transition into higher education. “This is a commuter campus which means you have to choose to be here,” said Cabanos. “This place invites you but it doesn’t force you.”

Cabanos graduates in June with a bachelor’s in business administration with a finance option. He has been accepted into the master of finance program at Pacific Lutheran University and will start this fall. “I’m 19 now and will be 20 when I complete my master’s,” said Cabanos. “I might take a break before pursuing a Ph.D. in economics.”

Return to 2019 Commencement: The Husky Family

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 11, 2019
Photos by: 
Ryan Moriarty
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu