Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the regular school activities and events are now held online. The use of online video conferences has become a trend such as the use of Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and others. This is the new normal for social gatherings and can also be used for graduation ceremonies.
A virtual graduation for an originally scheduled onsite graduation for the Cebu-based School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership, and Service (SKILLS) was held and streamed in the school’s Facebook page.
Erica Montealto Abella, the eldest among the three children of a taxi driver and a parking aide, topped 140 senior high school graduates of SKILLS-Cebu last May 5. She, along with 137 other graduates, are SM Foundation (SMFI) scholars for the School Year 2019-2020. Erica was under the tech-voc scholarship with a major in Home Economics.
She recalled meeting the late founder of SM, Tatang Henry Sy, Sr. during an SM Foundation event for the scholars. She was inspired by Tatang to “strive harder and to dream big.”
In her valedictory address, Erica emphasized: “We exit senior high school to pursue our profession either through work or college education. Let us not forget to look back at the challenges and fears that we have conquered. Do not let these challenges drag us down because we are bigger than our challenges.”
Coming from a poor family, Erica, despite the hardships she faced, stepped up and used her situation to inspire her to work and study harder to hopefully change for the better the life of her family. She knew that her key to success is to make the most of the opportunity given to her. The SMFI Scholarship program has provided her the access to a quality education.
She further thanked her parents, fellow students, advisers and teachers and her benefactor, the people behind the SMFI Scholarship Program, as they were all instrumental in helping her reach her dreams.
After finishing her tech-voc course, Erica may now opt to work or further continue her education to have a college degree.
From 2016-2018, SM Foundation supported 60 scholars under SKILLS. According to their Executive Director Jessie Cubijano, this increased through the years and SMFI was able to support 200 scholars each year.
SKILLS is a stand-alone private, senior high school managed by the Primary Structures Education Foundation, Inc. (PSEFI). The foundation is focused in providing academic and technical vocational scholarship for marginalized Filipinos such as unemployed men and women, out of school youth and adults, and differently-abled persons.
SMFI, through its Scholarship program, provides deserving and qualified students with access to college education and technical-vocational studies since 1993. To date, SMFI has produced almost 5,500 scholars all over the country.