Education: A leverage for limitless aspirations

SM Foundation’s scholarship program empowers dreams of youth

In a world brimming with boundless possibilities, education serves as a powerful lever that propels young dreamers towards their desired destinations. Especially for youth from low-income households, it allows them to transcend from the lives they have long known.

This is the very vision of SM group’s founder Tatang Henry Sy Sr. when he established SM Foundation’s college scholarship program. Thirty years in, his vision has come to life as the program paved the way for personal advancement, unlocked a myriad of opportunities, and made a positive impact on the world of thousands of students, including SM scholars Aljon Laborte and Joyce de Guzman.

Turning impossible dreams into reality

Education: A leverage for limitless aspirationsAljon Laborte (center) with his proud family during his graduation in 2015.

“I strongly believed that through education, I could hope for a better life for us. So, I prayed to God to grant me a college scholarship,” Aljon started, recalling how his mother worked hard to make ends meet after his father's tragic loss in the 2008 MV Princess of Stars capsizing.

The now-Certified Public Accountant (CPA) shared that through his SM scholarship, he was able to study at a prestigious university and remained motivated to chase his goals.

“My scholarship from SM Foundation turned my once impossible dreams into reality. It paved the way for my academic success and professional development… It lifted the burden of thinking about where I'd get money for tuition and allowance, which helped me focus on my studies,” he added.

It was in 2015 when he proudly graduated Cum Laude from the National University-Manila. While it has been years, the ripples of kindness from his scholarship still reverberate in his heart, inspiring him to spread social good.

He currently works part-time at his alma mater, wanting to give back and inspire the next generation to pursue their professional aspirations and strive hard in their studies. He also volunteers at their community church, contributing his professional skills to improve their financial reporting and help with transactions and regulatory compliance.

As Aljon progresses in life, he takes joy in repaying his mother for the sacrifices she made for their family. Though there are more things he wishes to provide, he's content with what they have now, savoring the things they once only dreamed of, like travelling, meeting their needs without worry, and having the freedom to celebrate special moments.

“Education opens the door to boundless opportunities. I'm glad that I didn't give up on my education and that SM Foundation found me and believed in my potential.. Sabi nga nila, ‘malayo pa, pero malayo na.’ There are still plenty of things we hope to achieve in life, but one thing's for sure: we've come a long way,” he said.

Turning dreams into achievable goals

Following the footsteps of Aljon is aspiring CPA and fellow SM scholar-alum Joyce de Guzman. She is one of the 397 scholars from batch 2023, set to be honored at SM Foundation’s presentation of graduates event.

Much like Aljon, Joyce is a driven and visionary student, who clearly knew that education would allow her to fully realize her dreams: become a CPA and be able to give back to her family.

“My friends, who were all top students, informed me about SM Foundation’s college scholarship program. This has ignited a flame of determination within me. I was driven to be one of them, not just for personal fulfillment but also to alleviate the financial strain of higher education on my family and myself,” she said.

Recalling what she felt when she got in, “This scholarship represented a beacon of hope that solidified my path towards a future where my dreams can soar unburdened by financial constraints."

Through the scholarship, Joyce was able to fully focus on her studies and set up the foundations of her career through an internship program that paved her professional and personal enrichment. As a bonus, she was a consistent awardee and graduated with academic distinction.

Education: A leverage for limitless aspirationsSM scholar alumna Joyce de Guzman, an aspiring CPA.

As she takes a step closer to her dreams, the aspiring alumna remains grateful to those who made this a reality: her family who believed in her dreams and SM Foundation that accompanied her throughout her academic journey.

"When I applied for the scholarship, we were struggling financially. It was difficult to make ends meet because only my dad worked. My older brother had to stop studying to help support us. But even though things were tight, my family knew that education was important, so they supported my dream of going to college," she shared her inspiration.

"Now, the scholarship has empowered me to pursue my dream of becoming a CPA and has paved the way toward financial stability for myself and my family. I am also excited to continue growing both professionally and personally. Someday, I hope to have the opportunity to support other aspiring students' dreams of pursuing higher education, the same way SM Foundation believed in mine," she concluded.