Some 500 SM scholars from NCR, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Olongapo, Cabanatuan, Pangasinan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon convened at SM Mall of Asia for the annual General Assembly, an opportunity for them to get to know one another, enjoy recreational activities and gain counsel from their fellow scholars, mentors and benefactors.
The gathering began with an early morning session of Zumba. Linda Atayde, SM Foundation’s Executive Director for Education, welcomed the scholars and gave a brief background on how the college scholarship program started with 100 students, up to supporting 1,000 scholars at present.
SM Investments Corporation Chairman and SM Foundation President Jose Sio addressed the SM scholars who have been given the opportunity to finish tertiary education, considering that in the Philippines, only ten graduate from college out of 100 who enter preschool.
He eagerly discussed how SM has grown from a small shoe store to the country’s biggest conglomerate in 60 years.
Sio encapsulated the company’s history with the essential lessons SM has learned and the values its founder, Henry Sy, espouses.
These time-tested ingredients to success include trust, vision, hard work, perseverance, focus, commitment, creative thinking and ambition.
He challenged the youth to plan what they are going to do and where they are going to go as they will be key players in the rapidly evolving digital world.
Among the scholars who spoke was Michie Anne Medrano, a freshman taking Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).
Hailing from Cagayan, her father is a security guard while her mother sells kakanin. She dreamed of studying in Manila but was “culture-shocked” about how high the cost of living was in the city.
“We had to buy vegetables we just used to grow in our backyard in the province.” She saw the announcement of college scholarship application on Facebook and applied.
She is grateful that the Foundation also provides allowance so she would not have to worry about transportation and other expenses. She tearfully thanked SM Foundation and the Sy family for making her dream to study in Manila come true.
The day was capped off with a free movie—hilarious, feel-good “Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation”.