SM scholars recall the beginning of their SM scholar journey
Some moments fade with time, certain experiences leave an indelible mark, shaping not just our paths but our very identities. For Atty. Marmie Deniega and Amanda Hora, the SM scholarship application wasn’t just a gateway to education; it was the moment that shaped the life they live today.
The first to obtain a degree in the family
A family legacy, SM scholar Amanda Hora becomes the first in her family to earn a degree.
Amanda’s unforgettable story as an SM scholar began when she stumbled upon a Facebook post about the SM scholarship application.
“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,” she said.
In the quiet hours of the night several years back, an email from the SM Foundation lit up her phone’s screen, informing her that she had been selected for their scholarship program.
The acceptance was a mark that she was a few steps away from fulfilling another goal: “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,” she added.
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.
She shared: “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.”
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.
“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,” she shared.
Scholar makes an impact on the community
Much like Amanda is CPA-lawyer Marmie Dyan Deniega.
Raised by a single mother amid financial struggles, the pursuit of a college degree seemed like an unattainable dream until she chanced upon a TV commercial that introduced her to the SM College Scholarship.
Recalling vividly the moment, she shares: “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.”
The scholarship became the cornerstone of Marmie’s academic success. She graduated with cum laude honors in Accountancy from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, crediting the scholarship for providing not only financial support but also the freedom to focus on her studies.
The scholarship not only shaped her academic journey but also fueled a sense of responsibility, which proved valuable when she pursued a law degree with the help of her aunt and part-time jobs.
Now, she proudly serves as an Attorney III at the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) of Mandaue City, actively contributing to her community’s development. She is one of the people who played a pivotal role in streamlining business permit processing in their city, making it more accessible to constituents.
As a firm believer in spreading social good, she finances the education of her siblings while actively engaging in community-based projects. She also stands as a resource speaker in schools for several crucial topics, such as the Anti-Bullying Law.
Apart from legal aid work in far-flung areas in Cebu, through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, she also volunteers with Law Inc., an organization helping victims of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC). She conducts seminars across various locations in Cebu, shedding light on the intricacies of VAWC.
In the confines of her office, clients naturally turn to her for legal advice, seeking guidance on various matters: “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 and Marmie’s stories are not just individual triumphs but testaments to the impact of education. Each year, countless dreamers like them are empowered to pursue their academic aspirations and chart their paths to success through the SM College Scholarship Program.
As the application for the SM College Scholarship Program opens from Feb. 1 to March 31, 2024, countless more lives stand to be touched.107