“SM Foundation became an instrument of God to bless me with the opportunity to go to college. The foundation is like a family to me, by enabling me and inspiring me to do my best so that someday, I can reach my dreams and also to become a faucet of blessings to others.” Quips Engr. Mary June Felongco, a Mechanical Engineer who was given an opportunity to finish school with the help of SM Foundation.
A product of A. Mirasol Memorial School and Mandurriao Nat’l High School during her elementary and highschool, respectively, Engr. Felongco, or simply MJ to her family and friends, is a BS Mechanical Engineering graduate of University of San Agustin.
“My father is a company driver in San Paolo Ice Plant for 23 years, while my mother is a full time housewife. I have a sister and is currently working as an online English teacher for Chinese students. She is a licensed teacher and a graduate of West Visayas State University.I also have a brother who is a TechVoc graduate but is now a first year college student in University of Iloilo taking up BS Criminology. One challenging moment in my family was when I graduated from highschool. Though I finished my high school as a salutatorian in our class, it was still very hard for my parents to send me to the university since both of my siblings were in college. I was thinking to stop my schooling for a while and let my sister and brother finish first, but I really prayed hard and eventually I was blessed to be one of the SM scholars” shares MJ.
Felongco shares challenging moments during her student days saying that it was more on the financial aspect, until things were much easier with the assistance of SM foundation. “From elementary until first year college, I sold food in class in order to have enough money for my projects and other needs. Thank God, we have allowance in the college scholarship monthly.”
“What I am thankful for SM foundation also is, they are giving opportunities for scholars to work in SM during Sem break, summer vacation and even during Christmas season. We are not required to work in SM during breaks, but I always take the opportunity for extra allowance and also to experience what it is like to work in SM. Those were really fun time for me. I learned about the SM Scholarship through my mother. She was the one who really desired for us to have the scholarship and prayed for it. She said that she saw announcement posters years ago.I think it was during my elementary years when she first knew about the scholarship” she added.
MJ’s dream to be a Mechanical Engineer finally came, and now she is more than grateful to SM Foundation for all the assistance and guidance it extended to her on her journey to get to where she is now.
When asked how she can inspire others and be a significant part of the community, she answers, “I can be a significant member of the community by first helping to improve the life of my family, as this is one of the dream of Tatang (Mr. Henry Sy, Sr.), to uplift the lives of the Filipino family. Also in my simple way sharing my story to students, especially about the scholarship and encourage them to do their best.”
MJ says that students should never surrender pursuing their dreams. Poverty is never an excuse. Everything is possible when we believe. Like Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. “ who once said that “You have to have a dream, whether big or small. Then plan well, focus, work hard and be very determined to achieve your goals.”
While all can be done with perseverance and hard work, MJ believes that one must offer everything to God. “Faith in God must be always in our hearts while we are on our journey in life. The best weapon that we can bring to achieve our dreams is prayer —it is so powerful that it can turn the impossible to possible.”
SM founder Henry Sy, Sr. believes that education is the best defense against poverty. SM Foundation provide college and technical-vocational scholarship grants as well as access to primary education through school buildings to help the youth achieve their dreams.
SM also helps provide underprivileged children with better quality public education by donating school buildings and classrooms in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). DepEd identifies areas in need to help address the backlog of classrooms in accordance with national requirements. With the new and conducive environment for learning, children perform better in school and are more inspired to learn, while teachers also become more effective.
So much have changed in Engr. Felongco’s life that she is now able to help her parents and siblings. “I am now able to help my brother go back to school and to pursue his dream to become a Police Officer. It’s my way of saying thank you to SM. I know Tatang will be happy knowing that I am now able to start paying forward the gift of education he shared to us. I am also happily employed in SM Supermalls as a Building Admin Officer of SM City Iloilo and I am looking forward for more learnings and fun experiences in SM.”