SM scholars spread social good to learners

SM scholars spread social good to learners

SM scholar alumna Karen Mae Muñez

One of the supported courses under the SM College Scholarship Program is the Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Secondary Education. Over the years, SM Foundation (SMFI) has produced a number of intelligent and talented educators in the country.

Among those who pursued a career in the education sector are SM scholar alumni Karen Mae Muñez and Gemma Gutierrez.

Teacher Karen obtained her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Mindanao State University in General Santos in 2015 and passed the licensure exam the same year. She’s now teaching at Bawing Elementary School in the said city.

During a kumustahan session, Karen reminisced how she played as a teacher during her younger years to her unschooled relatives (young and adult) so that they would learn the basics in reading and writing. At an early age, Karen already knew what she wanted—to become an educator.

She also recalled how her high school teacher assisted her and her classmates in order for them to apply for the SM College Scholarship. Due to lack of funds, their teacher funded their fare going to SM for them to be able to submit their application for the grant. “I was able to apply because my 4th year high school adviser pushed the 10 of us to apply and gave us fare money so we can travel to the city where the application took place. Among the 10 of us, I was the only one who made it to the final list of successful scholar applicants,” Karen shared. According to her, aside from her daily education expenses, she also utilized her allowance from the scholarship to help augment her family’s expenses.

SM scholars spread social good to learners

SM scholar alumna Karen Mae Muñez

When asked about her most memorable experience as an SM scholar, she said, “For me, all of the engagement events of SMFI are memorable. But the Presentation of the Graduates left a lasting impression on me since we really felt special. Aside from shouldering our airfare and accommodations, we got a chance to meet our benefactors which is the Sy family. We know that they are really busy since they are running a conglomerate, but they gave their time just to meet us personally. It’s really a big deal for us! The presentation of graduates in 2015 was one of the last few presentations that the SM patriarch attended.”

“Tatang has been an inspiration for me. One of his memorable quotes that really struck me is that no matter how hard your life is, don't give up. If your first plan did not work, try an alternate solution. I am also teaching my students this principle. I also remind them to study hard so that they will be able to reach their dreams and change the economic status of their families,” she further shared.

Her view of her teaching job: “I love my job because it is fulfilling to see my students learning from me. I’m happy that I become an instrument to widen their knowledge and serve as a life coach to them which may help them achieve their dreams.”

SM scholars spread social good to learners

Teacher Gemma (left) together with SMIC Executive Director Harley Sy (middle) and another SM scholar alumnus (right) during the SM Scholars’ Alumni Homecoming in 2019

On the other hand, SM scholar alumna Gemma finished BS Education major in Mathematics and minor in Theology from St. Rita College in Manila in 1998 with academic distinction. She was hired immediately at St. Mary Academy in Caloocan where she teaches up to this day.

Gemma recalled that after finishing high school, she had to work at an umbrella factory just to save up for her college education, though she said that it was still not enough to fund her to enter a higher education institution. Until one of her friends, a former SM scholar, introduced her to the SM College Scholarship program.

“I’ve been a teacher for almost 22 years already. I am very happy for what the SM College Scholarship Program has done to my life. Now that I have a stable job, my children—two boys who are now in Grades 3 and 10—will no longer experience the hardships that I endured when I was young. All my gratitude to SM Foundation and the Sy family!” Gemma stated.

SM scholars spread social good to learners

SM scholar alumna Gemma Gutierrez.

“To the future scholars of SMFI, you made the right choice of choosing this scholarship program. As an SM scholar, you will not only receive an allowance or tuition for your studies, but you will also be given various enrichment activities that will hone you to be persons with integrity and a heart to serve others like the late Tatang Henry Sy,” she ended.

Just like teachers Karen and Gemma, you may also achieve your dreams in life through the help of the SM College Scholarship Program. The online application for SY 2021-2022 is open until March 20, 2021. To apply, visit

For more updates, follow SM Foundation’s official social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube): @SMFoundationInc.

SM Foundation, 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 scholar-graduates nationwide.