Strength in Tenacity

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SM scholars-graduates of 2022 brave the challenges ahead

Tenacious and sedulous.

These are words one utters when looking into the eyes of students who went through the dynamic educational landscape during the course of the pandemic.

When the world was caught off guard by COVID-19, students armed themselves without knowing what would come ahead.

Nonetheless, they braved the sudden shift to online learning.

After roughly three years of adjustments, they once more prepared for the resumption of face-to-face classes.

Unparalleled persistence

The same two words would also fit SM scholar Harvey Diño.

Diño was born in a low-income household, making the rapidly changing learning modes more difficult.

During the early years of the pandemic, his family relied on his father, who was a security guard.

But he didn’t let this obstacle stop him from fulfilling his dream of becoming an educator.

He managed to juggle lectures, laboratory activities, online exams, preparations for face-to-face and become a consistent Dean’s Lister, all while taking advantage of the part-time Christmas and summer jobs at SM—an opportunity extended to SM scholars.

Dinio Photo
Rising beyond the challenges, SM scholar Harvey Diño finishes a Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Science with flying colors.

While the weight is already heavy on the shoulders of the aspiring teacher from Butuan City, his father died of a heart attack in 2021—just a year before he could make him proud by handing over his diploma.

“My father ignored the symptoms—I think this is because he was more worried about our economic situation. We just learned about it when he was hospitalized back in December 2021. That became one of the darkest moments in my life, but I didn’t lose hope,” he said.

“After my father’s death, we struggled financially. But I used my passion for teaching to support my mother and sibling. I worked as a tutor to earn extra income and provide for my family’s needs,” he added.

As a truly tenacious and sedulous student, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Science from Father Saturnino Urios University, where he is currently teaching while preparing for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

Through the various learning opportunities organized by SMFI, he developed good communication and leadership skills, team playing ability, and a strong work ethic.

These are some strengths he maximized up to this point of his journey, and he aims to utilize them as he faces the real world.

“After graduating, many opportunities opened, but I still chose to teach. I believe that it’s my calling. Teaching allows you to mold future generations through the curriculum you set and the personal wisdom you impart, which will last a lifetime. It is one of the many ways I can give back to SM—to pass on their kindness, to pay it forward,” Diño said.

When asked why he wants to pay it forward, “When times were rough, I leaned on the help of others, of SM, on their scholarship, and their kindness. I believe that as a beneficiary of their scholarship, we are called to gratitude in the form of spreading social good. For me, life becomes complete when we can give others what we, ourselves, received in the past. When we pay it forward, we can send ripples of kindness throughout communities,” Diño said.

As he looked back on the most formidable time of his life, the 23-year-old scholar noted how SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI) helped influence his success, “SMFI taught us, scholars, to have grit or combine passion and perseverance in any endeavor we wish to pursue.”

“To my Mama, my Papa in heaven, my brother, family, friends, and most especially, to my SM family, thank you for believing in me during my college journey. I could not have made this academic success without your help. I am so grateful to have you as my support system,” he said.

Rising to greatness

Harvey’s inspiring story to greatness is just one of the many that will be shared during the SM Foundation’s Rise to Greatness, the presentation of the SM College Scholar Graduates, on Oct. 22, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm, via Facebook live.

He and over 300 scholar-graduates of 2021-2022 will be honored for their persistence and determination amidst the pandemic.

In this year’s roster of scholars, 146 are set to graduate with honors: 24 with academic distinction, six summa cum laude, 41 magna cum laude, and 75 cum laude.

Learn more about stories of scholar-graduates or SMFI’s education initiatives today. Visit or follow its social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube): @SMFoundationInc



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