52 of the 2019 SM scholar graduates bring home plum

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Exactly 52 of the 270 college graduates of SM Foundation’s scholarship program are bringing home honors and pricey plums as they march during the mass graduation to be held by the foundation on June 26 at SMX Convention Center.

 

Of these hardworking scholars—all of whom were plucked from indigent and marginalized families—2 are sum cum laude; 15 magna cum laude; 31 cum laude and 4 with academic distinction.

 

The foundation pays for the plane fares and billets the scholars with no relatives in Metro Manila to ensure their attendance to the once-in-a-lifetime grand gathering with their peers.

 

Prior to the graduation rites in the afternoon, the scholars will be given a chance to apply for jobs in any of the SM Group of companies, during a job fair that is staged exclusively for them.

 

During the graduation day, the Sy family gifts each graduate with a personally- engraved wristwatch. Those with Latin honors are rewarded with SM gift cards of P10,000 (summa cum laude); P7,000 (magna cum laude) and P5,000 for cum laude and P3,000 for those with academic distinction.  

 

But unlike those who graduated last year, the 2019 batch would be missing their great benefactor—Tatang Henry Sy Sr. who died last January. Tatang, as the founder of SM Group is fondly called, began the scholarship on his belief that sending one kid to college would impact positively and lift the family and the community from poverty.

 

The scholarship program has produced 9,000 college graduates—all of them successful professionals or entrepreneurs here and abroad. The program was started by Sy Sr. in 1993, or 10 years after his personal philanthropic works (through the foundation) of donating to charitable institutions in 1983.

 

The graduates come from private and state-owned colleges and universities in courses like accountancy, engineering, IT, accounting technology, computer science, management accounting, mathematics, elementary and secondary education courses, business administration and financial management, and business administration and internal audit.

 

Despite the generous scholarship package, SM Foundation does not oblige scholars to work at any of the SM Group’s companies but only to make sure that once they have acquired the means, the graduates must send a sibling to college and eventually others who are also less fortunate in the community, explained Carmen Linda Atayde, executive director for education of SM Foundation.

 

Atayde said the foundation’s budget per scholar is P70,000 or more per scholar and they accept 1,500 scholars per year or a total yearly budget of P100 million as reported by Philippines Graphic. (In addition, there are private individuals and institutions that personally sponsor some scholars but administered by SM Foundation).

 

The foundation has partnered with 119 private and government colleges and universities for its scholarship program across the country. (This is apart from its partnerships with 35 schools and colleges offering 2-year technical-vocation courses that this year enrolled 2,000 scholars, who often land lucrative jobs even during their on the job trainings here and abroad.)

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