SM Foundation scholar hurdled power woes to graduate with honors | Inquirer News

SM Foundation scholar hurdled power woes to graduate with honors

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 02:29 AM June 09, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–It was in the dark corners of his home in Cagayan de Oro City that Kent B. Mission saw his future in a new light.

Even in a humble abode devoid of electricity, Mission, 20, managed to burn the midnight oil and finished a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy, graduating cum laude from Liceo de Cagayan University this year.

An SM Foundation Inc. scholar during the past four school years, Mission said it was difficult to study, much more live, without electricity.


“It’s difficult because the nights are dark that’s why I maximize the time every morning. That’s when I study in the library,” Mission said in Filipino during last Thursday’s presentation of the 18th batch of SM Foundation scholar-graduates at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.


Even now, every time he has to charge his cell phone battery, he has to walk a few blocks from where he lives to a relative’s place before the power fully drains away, Mission told the Inquirer.

He said that back in school, he also had to rent personal computers at Internet shops whenever he had a project, unlike most of his classmates who had their own laptops at home.

It did not help that he, a younger sibling and their mother had to live on their father’s meager salary, which is even shared with another woman.

Second parent

This is why Mission felt he was lucky to have another “parent” in SM conglomerate founder Henry Sy Sr., whom he and other SM Foundation scholars fondly call “Tatang”—the force behind the foundation.

“With all the hardships I have gone through, you are in my heart. You have become my second parent because you were the one who paid for my college education,” Mission said, addressing Tatang, eliciting cheers from the audience.


The lack of opportunities for indigent students who want to finish college is the reason why SM Foundation, for over two decades now, chooses more than 200 poor but intelligent high school graduates each year and grants them assistance in their tertiary studies in 82 partner colleges and universities nationwide through its SM College Scholarship Program.

1,900 graduates

To date, the program has churned out over 1,900 graduates, many of whom have been successful in their respective professions here and abroad, said Carmen Linda M. Atayde, SM Foundation senior assistant vice president and executive director for education.

“Every year, we have many scholars who graduate with honors,” Atayde said.

This year is no exception. Of the 220 graduates, 69 received honors. Six of them graduated summa cum laude, 19 magna cum laude and 29—including Mission—received cum laude honors.

For the school year 2014-15, a bigger number of scholars—322—were chosen out of thousands who applied, as additional slots were given to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda late last year, according to Atayde.

“Before, we only had about 25 scholars from Leyte every year. But for this school year, we included an additional 100 scholars from Tacloban. They really need the help,” Atayde said.

Summer, holiday job

SM Foundation shoulders the cost of tuition every semester and also gives a monthly allowance for transportation and book expenses. Scholars who could use extra cash may also work at SM malls during summer and Christmas breaks.

In the case of Mission, he had to occasionally use his scholarship allowance to buy food for his family. But with a diploma tucked under his belt, he sees a brighter future ahead of him.

Mission is optimistic that he will pass the accountancy board examination before the year ends, and hopes to land a job as a certified public accountant at the SM mall in his hometown.

“I’d like to work here in Manila but my mother does not want me to be separated from the family,” he said.

Atayde said scholar-graduates were not being limited to pursuing work opportunities in SM companies, but many of them preferred to do so anyway. “They also want to give back to the Sy family,” she said.

And just like Tatang, who started as a small entrepreneur but eventually became one of the country’s richest tycoons with a business empire involved in retail, real estate and banking, Mission also dreams of becoming successful to help lift his family out of poverty.

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So what will he do when he gets his first paycheck? “I will apply for electricity connection to my house,” Mission said.

TAGS: Educations, Henry Sy Sr., Scholar, SM Foundation, Students, Tatang

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