Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SM scholars recall the beginning of their SM scholar journey

“It has always been my dream to pursue a quality education without the burden of tuition expenses. I enrolled in a university in Senior High School because of a scholarship, and I know that the only way to continue my college years at the same university is to obtain another full scholarship. That is why I never hesitated to apply for the SM scholarship, hoping to be accepted. I pursued college because I wanted to become the first in our family to get a college degree. My parents did not finish their studies due to financial difficulties, but they’ve always been supportive of my dreams and aspirations. Also, I believe in the importance of quality education. It is something that nobody can take away. As a scholar, the foundation’s programs and webinars allowed me to hear inspiring stories from other scholars, mentoring and motivating us to pursue our goals. When COVID-19 affected the country and whenever there were calamities, the SM Foundation looked after us. They provided us with tools that are essential for remote learning. It made me feel that I am part of a bigger family and that I am not alone in this journey. I would use my knowledge to find ways to provide livelihood programs, especially in areas or communities where it is much needed. I would also advocate for financial literacy to help people effectively manage their finances and build resilience, especially during unpredictable life events. I would also use my story to inspire the youth, especially the current and future scholars, and remind them to never give up on their dreams. My mother and I were watching the television. The commercial for SM Foundation came in, and the application deadline was flashed through the screen. Coincidentally, it was on that day itself, so I rushed and submitted my application at the nearest SM Mall. It cannot be helped that clients will also seek legal advice from me, hence I also make it a point to help them, to the best of my ability, and within the boundaries set by law. ~Amanda Hora, SM Scholar
Amanda snaps a photo with her family as she graduated cum laude with a degree in BS accountancy in 2023.

Some memories fade with time, while others leave an indelible mark that shapes not only our paths but also our very identities. For attorney. For Marmie Deniega and Amanda Hora, the SM scholarship application was more than just a means of obtaining an education; it was a watershed moment in their lives.

The first to obtain a degree in the family

Amanda's unforgettable story as an SM scholar began when she came across a Facebook post about the scholarship application.

Several years ago, in the dead of night, an email from the SM Foundation appeared on her phone's screen, informing her that she had been selected for their scholarship program.

The scholarship opened doors throughout her college years. Beyond the academic realm, she had the opportunities to join competitions, intern at prestigious firms, and build a network that extended far beyond the classroom. 

These experiences paved academic and personal growth. As she graduated cum laude with a degree in BS accountancy in 2023, she aims to contribute to the community by creating a ripple effect of kindness.

Atty. Marmie Deniega (fifth from left) with her colleagues from IBP-Cebu Chapter.

Scholar makes an impact on the community

Much like Amanda is CPA-lawyer Marmie Dyan Deniega.

Raised by a single mother in a difficult financial situation, pursuing a college degree seemed like an impossible dream until she saw a TV commercial that introduced her to the SM College Scholarship. The scholarship became the foundation for Marmie's academic success. She earned a cum laude honors degree in accounting from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, and she credits the scholarship with providing not only financial support but also the freedom to focus on her studies.  The scholarship not only shaped her academic journey, but it also instilled a sense of responsibility in her, which proved useful when she pursued a law degree with the assistance of her aunt and part-time jobs.

Now successful in her field, Atty. Marmie travels and enjoys various leisure activities. Beyond this, she is thankful to have the capability to support her family.

She now proudly works as an Attorney III at Mandaue City's Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO), where she actively contributes to the development of the community. She is one of those who played a key role in streamlining business permit processing in their city, making it more accessible to residents.

As a firm believer in spreading social good, she funds her siblings' education while actively participating in community-based initiatives. She also serves as a resource speaker in schools for a variety of important topics, including the Anti-Bullying Law.

Aside from providing legal aid in remote areas of Cebu through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, she also volunteers with Law Inc., an organization that assists victims of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC). She holds seminars at various locations in Cebu, shedding light on the complexities of VAWC.

In her office, clients naturally turn to her for legal advice on a variety of issues.

Amanda and Marmie's stories are not just personal triumphs, but also testaments to the power of education. Each year, the SM College Scholarship Program enables countless dreamers like them to pursue their academic goals and chart their own paths to success.

As applications for the SM College Scholarship Program open from February 1 to March 31, 2024, countless more lives will be touched. 

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