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Monday, April 29, 2024

SM Foundation Scholars: Changing lives for the better

For Amanda Hora and Atty. Marmie Deniega, being an SM Scholar not just help change their lives but opened doors of experiences for them and shaped who they are today. 

It was a story of serendipity for Amanda because she just happen to see a Facebook post about 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 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," said Amanda. 

In the quiet hours of the night several years back, she received an email informing her that she had been selected for the SM Foundation Scholarship Program. That acceptance letter was a sign that she was a few steps away from her goal of getting a college degree. 

"My parents did not finish their studies due to financial difficulties, but they've been always supportive of my dreams and aspirations. Also, I believe in the importance of quality education. It is something that nobody can take away," added Amanda. 

Through SM Foundation's scholarship program, Amanda was able to fulfill her dream of studying in college and it also opened doors of opportunity beyond academic. She joined competitions, intern at prestigious firms, and build a network that extend far beyond the classroom. 

"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 experience helped Amanda not only with her studies but with her personal growth as well. 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 to never give up on their dreams," shared Amanda. 

Similar to Amanda's story, Atty. Marmie Dyan Deniega also faced financial struggles and her dream of pursuing a college degree seemed impossible. Raised by a single mother, who worked hard to make ends meet and provide a better future for her daughter. But it was serendipity that also brought her to SM Foundation when she and her mother chanced upon a TV commercial about SM College Scholarship. 

"My mother and I were watching the TV. 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," said Atty. Deniega. 

The scholarship became the cornerstone of Atty. Deniega's academic success. She graduated cum laude in Accountancy at 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 helped shaped her academic journey and fueled a sense of responsibility, which proved valuable when she pursued a law degree with the help of her aunt and part-time jobs. 

Presently, Atty. Deniega 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 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 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 Atty. Deniega'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.


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