The SM Foundation Scholarship Program provides a chance for alumnus Fritz Mendez to Achieve his Dream

SM Foundation

SM Foundation continues to champion education by providing college scholarships to deserving students from economically vulnerable communities since 1993, a proof of how education and hard work are paving the way for a life out of poverty.

SM founder Henry Sy believed that education is the best defense against poverty. For him, one of the most impactful ways to make a difference in a community is by helping a student attain a college degree — its multiplier effect goes on as that graduate eventually becomes capable of helping his family, the company he will work for and the society as a whole.

Apart from supporting over 4,200 scholar beneficiaries year-to-date, the scholarship program is also helping break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by advancing youth education, building school facilities and providing classrooms nationwide.

For Fritz Mendez, this journey is anything but straightforward. Living in a vulnerable community, survival was the only thing he could think of. 

His mother was forced to leave her job as a domestic helper due to the war in Lebanon. This and several other familial problems forced him to stop attending school, feeling that escaping poverty was an impossible dream. 

“When you live in our community, it seems expected of you not to go to college or have a degree because poverty is very rampant. I, however, had a dream inside me to show to my community and family that I can have a college degree,” he said. “Having an opportunity to fulfill that dream through the SM Scholarship is indeed a blessing I prayed for. I took all the courage to apply and the SM Foundation gave me a shot.”

Achieving the once-impossible dream

SM Foundation
SM Scholarship Program alumni Fritz takes his turn in inspiring the new generation of SM Foundation scholars.

Starting college at the age of 19, and being older than his peers didn’t stop Fritz from developing his skills and making the most of the opportunity given to him. 

The supportive environment of the scholarship program and his involvement in church activities helped him turn his negative experiences into positive actions. He discovered his passion for writing and performing, his outgoing nature, and his leadership skills, which were honed through various church and school activities. 

Fritz also developed practical skills like budgeting and time management, crucial for his survival and success in college and future career. These experiences boosted his confidence and expanded his horizons.

“The scholarship unleashed a new side of me. From merely thinking about survival, I developed a sense of responsibility, discipline, and an appreciation for the value of labor and money. This growth was particularly evident during my participation in the SM Scholarship’s summer job program, where I learned to budget my earnings effectively. I was able to provide for our household needs while still saving enough for my allowance in the upcoming semester.”

Living the dream

SM Foundation
Family is everything. At work, Fritz encourages fellow employees to spread social good.

After earning his Accounting Technology degree in 2014, he landed his first and only job at BDO Unibank

Climbing the corporate ladder, he is now a senior teller while also serving as the Regional Director of the BDO Employees Association for the Visayas region. While managing key accounts in his area, he uplifts his colleagues, leads effectively, and proposes innovative welfare policies for his fellow employees.

The SM Foundation under SM Group has taught me that family is everything. As an SM scholar, their encouragement and support showed me the true meaning of family. Now, working at BDO Unibank, I get to experience and demonstrate how to nurture my family,” he said.  

Today, Fritz is able to provide for his family’s essential needs and healthy living environment, especially for his mother who supported his dream of a better life.

“Beyond this, the SM Scholarship gave hope to me, a high school student who could have accepted his fate. The SM Scholarship not only made me the only degree holder in a broken family but also provided an opportunity for me to envision a brighter, more promising future. It highlighted the potential for students like me to begin anew and forge our own paths toward success.”

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