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SM College Scholarship Program continues to make dreams come true for Baguio youths

(Manila, Philippines, July 30, 2013) — It is said that a college education is a big step to a better life. And it is unfortunate that many deserving but underprivileged students are unable to make that leap because of financial difficulties.

Aware of the importance of education, the SM College Scholarship Program of the SM Foundation, Inc. provides free college scholarship to 1,300 poor but deserving students at any given time. And through this, it has been able to be a stepping stone for a better life not only for the scholars, but also for their families.

To date, the program has already supported 33 alumni from Baguio City, most of which are now employed under the SM Group of Companies and various companies in the Philippines and abroad.

But being SM Scholars is not only about academics. It is also about being part of a family and about values formation. Be inspired, learn to hope, and appreciate the importance of education with the stories of three SM scholars from Baguio: Andra Garcia, Crisjan Ira Kashmir Ramboyong and Ivy Kieve Laban.

Don’t stop believing

Andra, whose family comes from San Carlos City, Pangasinan, is the daughter of a carinderia helper and plain housewife.

When she graduated from the Baguio City National High School two years ago, she was determined to enroll in a college course. To make this possible, she applied to three college scholarship programs. Unfortunately, there was bad news from the first two she applied for.

Having been brought up by her religious parents, however, she did not lose hope. Her mother told her to keep on praying. As a family, they regularly went to church to pray for her third application — and her last hope — the SM College Scholarship Program, where she was accepted.

“Being accepted as an SM Scholar cemented my passion to study further and prove that I am deserving of their assistance,” says Andra, who is now a second year electronics and communications engineering student at St. Louis University.

Despite the demands of her course, Andra, who was an honor student in high school, has been maintaining her grades in all her subjects. She vows to keep it that way until she graduates, as payback to the assistance provided by SM, and to make her parents proud.

“I’m thankful to SM for giving me the chance to study,” she says. Andra looks forward to giving her family a better life after she graduates, and to support her younger sibling’s studies when she is already stable.

Looking at the bright side

Although she graduated from the Baguio City National High School with flying colors, Ira at first doubted if she would be able to attend college. Her mother Janice Jamias is a vendor of snacks and other food items in Burnham Park. Her father Joel Ramboyong helps boat owners at Burnham Park attend to tourists. Both get only meager income.

But Ira and her family still maintained a positive outlook in life and have been optimistic that things will get better.

Things changed when she learned about the SM College Scholarship Program through her best friend. They inquired, underwent the initial interviews and examination, and Ira was fortunately accepted. She is now a second year accountancy student at St. Louis University.

“Malaking tulong yung pagiging SM scholar ko,” says Ira. “Makakapag-focus ako sa pag-aaral. Tapos yung monthly allowance na ipino-provide nila, nakakatulong sa pagtustos para sa school supplies and books (My being an SM scholar is a big help for my family. I can focus on my studies. The monthly allowance that I get can help in my expenses for school supplies and books),” says Ira.

Ira’s parents are not married, but have been together for 19 years and have two children. Eldest child Ira says that one of her projects after she graduates is to find a stable job and finance her parents’ wedding.

Ira recalls that when she qualified for the scholarship, she and the other scholars were advised by SM to maintain their grades, be good, and learn to be independent, which she vows to do.

“Pagbubutihin ko, kasi we cannot get a good job kung wala kang natatapos (I will do my best because I know I cannot get a good job if I don’t finish schooling),” she says. “Magpupursige akong makatapos. We thank SM for helping us (I will do my best to graduate.. We thank SM for helping us).”

Family Values

Ivy, a fourth year accountancy student at St. Louis University, traces her roots to Tadian, Mountain Province. Her father is a retired miner and her mother is a housewife.

After graduating from the Pines City National High School, she applied for SM Foundation’s SM College Scholarship Program to be able to get a college degree. She followed the example of her elder siblings who finished their college education through the help of relatives and scholarship grants, and are now working on their own.

Ivy and her mother say that they are thankful for scholarship opportunities offered by companies like SM because less fortunate but qualified students like her are given a chance to study and improve their lives.

“It is my priority to finish college,” says Ivy. “Although sometimes there are challenges like the expensive books required by our instructors, I still do my best to overcome the hardships.”

After graduation, Ivy says she would consider working for either an SM company or an auditing firm. It is her dream to pass the board exams.

SM Scholars fulfill their dreams of a college education with the help of the SM College Scholarship Program. Pictures show (from left): SM scholar Andra Garcia; (top) Andra with sister and (below) Ira with family; SM scholar Crisjan Ira Kashmir Ramboyong; and SM scholar Ivy Kieve Laban with her family (inset).

About SM Foundation
SM Foundation is the socio-civic arm of the SM Group of Companies through which it helps the less fortunate in the communities it serves. The Foundation has four areas of advocacy: education through scholarship programs and donation of school buildings; health through medical missions, mobile clinics, and establishment of wellness and health centers; livelihood and community development; and the conduct of relief operations to victims of calamities. The Foundation intends to serve more communities as SM builds more malls around the country.