Twenty years ago, high school student Rizaly Lim and her four siblings watched in awe every time they passed the construction of the first SM City in her hometown of Sta. Rose, Lagoon. The five children, crammed into the tricycle their father drives for a living, all looked forward to the happy family weekends they would spend in the huge mall.
Today, after graduating Summa Cum Laude on a scholarship from the SM Foundation, Rizaly is now a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) working as an accounting manager for the head office of SM Prime Holdings, a real estate developer in prominent in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
From SM Foundation scholarship holder to SM Prime accounting manager
At a young age, Rizaly was stubborn to lift her family out of poverty. She shares, “My dad was the only one working for our family, and because we were a big family, his daily income as a tricycle driver was never enough.
Rizaly graduated from Balibago National High School as class valedictorian in 2005 and was already sending applications for other college scholarships when his teacher asked the top 10 students to go to SM City Sta. Rosa for an interview with SM Foundation.
“In addition, in Hindi and naniwala kasi bago in the language of a noon SM City Sta. Pink“, she recalls. She continued of course, motivated by the sole objective of completing her university studies and helping her family. “Gusto ko rin po makapag-aral at noon makapagtapos. Maka-work at makatulong his family.”
A few exams and interviews later, SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) went to visit her and her family to inform them that she would receive a full scholarship with a monthly stipend until she completed his courses.
In 2010, Rizaly graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She then passed the Philippine CPA Board of Trustees exams on the first try in October 2010. SMFI’s assistance, she said, went beyond tuition and allowances. “With full scholarships and monthly stipends, as well as the opportunity to work at SM Store during our summer and Christmas holidays, the SMFI scholarship has enabled me to financially support my family.”
“I am master of my destiny”
As other parents bought their college kids the latest Nokia phone during the summers of the 2000s, Rizaly’s father gave her and her siblings weekly homework assignments to complete during the summer break. . “Our late father instilled in us a love of reading and the value of study,” she shared. “During the summer, he would assign us English words and their meanings to memorize and ask us to recite them to him.”
Then there is the memorization of poems and motivational speeches, one of which stayed with her for life: “No matter how narrow the door, how laden the scroll with punishment, I am the master of my destiny, I am the captain of my soul.” She shared that that last verse of WE Henley’s “Invictus” motivated her to look beyond the confines of her situation and focus on her personal goals.
Career at SM
The SM Foundation was established in 1983 by Henry Sy, Sr. and Felicidad T. Sy as the heart of the SM Group. He has established programs focused on educating and caring for underserved communities where SM has a presence. It supports and empowers host communities through education, healthcare, shelter, disaster response, sustainable agriculture, and care for people with special needs.
To date, the SM Foundation has helped over 8,000 college and technical/vocational students and has donated over 100 school buildings with a total of 334 classrooms built across the country.
Graduate education extends beyond the classroom, as the SM Foundation also provides employment opportunities at the various SM Group companies. The foundation organizes a job fair specially designed for its scholarship recipients.
Since the career fair organized by the SM Foundation, Rizaly has been able to obtain job offers from three companies – among them SM Prime Holdings, one of the largest integrated real estate developers in Southeast Asia which offers cities innovative and sustainable with the development of shopping centres, residences, offices, hotels and convention centres. It is also the largest, in terms of assets, in the Philippines.
I still want to level up
“I haven’t accomplished much yet, but I appreciate what I’ve already accomplished and received so far,” Rizaly said, referring to the highest honors she received in high school and college. college, becoming a CPA and being promoted to manager within just a few years of working at SM Prime. “These are just a few of the accomplishments for which I will be eternally grateful. I also take pride in my day-to-day accomplishments at work, such as completing specific tasks assigned to me. They make me happy and proud of myself, and they inspire me to do better.
“Ang mga dating pinapangarap ko lang, nagagawa ko na ngayon,said Rizaly when recounting how she was able to travel to Taiwan for vacation and tour the three cities of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. But her biggest dreams, she says, remain centered around her family: to better support her family by sharing with them what she has now. “Nothing is simple. Nothing is easy. Hindi ko naman in straight line lang na na-realize. Life is full of challenges. Just stay strong, keep the faith and always do your best.