"Adopt-A-Scholar" program expands reach as more volunteers send pledges
July 22, 2012
Twenty-three more have been added to the growing list of Adopt-A-Scholar beneficiaries through Project HELEN, the University of the Cordilleras' (UC) community arm.
This brings the number of recipients of scholarship grants to 57 elementary and high school pupils from barangay Upper Tadiangan in Tuba, Benguet. The grant proceeds from donations from volunteers who responded to Project HELEN's call to support the studies of school children by shouldering expenses for their school supplies, shoes or rainwear.
Volunteers consist of individuals or groups who are provided with the option to become "foster parents" to one beneficiary or more if they prefer, thus the program sees this as a process of "adoption."
Volunteer response to the program nearly doubled since the project was launched in 2010, UC's Community Extension and Services Office (CESO) director and vice-president for administration Dr. Leonarda R. Aguinalde said. More have pledged support, so an increase in the number of beneficiaries is expected, she added.
Volunteers and their "foster children" gathered at the UC Library's general reading area last July 12 for an acquaintance session. Through Project HELEN, gifts were distributed to the beneficiaries who are also wards of the Beacon Church Ministry in barangay Upper Tadiangan.
Adopt-A-Scholar is one of more than 500 initiatives undertaken by Project HELEN in the aspects of health, education, livelihood, environment and nurturance (thus, HELEN). The "meet and greet" activity was held to commemorate the birthday of UC's co-founder Evangelina "Helen" Domingo-Salvosa who was born on July 12, 1910.
UC's community arm was named after the university's co-founder whose short name was Helen. She studied Nursing at the University of the Philippines and graduated in 1932. "The presence of the children today honors Mrs. Salvosa's memory," UC president Dr. Ricardo P. Pama said in his remarks.
"She taught us that wealth and power should not comprise our life's aspirations. What matters is the number of lives we have touched," Dr. Pama said.
The university president who obtained his doctorate in engineering from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland said he wanted to be a lawyer. But as a child who was raised by his grandmother in their hometown, sending him to school was difficult due to poverty. "Furthermore, I was sickly and had to endure long walks to school barefoot, just so I could get an education," he recalls.
By the time he reached college, Dr. Pama said a career in engineering was what his benefactors (who were his uncles and aunts) preferred. "Although it was not my choice, my desire to get an education prevailed over my personal preferences," he said.
Dr. Pama who eventually came back to his hometown to undertake a personal "give-back" initiative also maintains a number of beneficiaries under the "Adopt-A-Scholar" program. "I was once like you," he told the children. "The best way to beat poverty is to obtain a good education," he added.
In pursuit of a "good education" is former "Adopt-A-Scholar" beneficiary Roseann Liwan. She joined the program during her third year at the Irisan National High School and decided to pursue a degree in Education at UC after high school.
Currently a freshman, Roseann belongs to the roster of UC's working scholars and is currently assigned to the UC Property Office. She said Project HELEN's positive impact on her life made her decide to pursue her dreams of becoming a teacher through UC. "If they were able to help me while I was in high school, I have no doubt UC can still help make my dreams a reality," she said.
However, like Dr. Pama, Roseann who was one of ten scholars supported by UC's Hapiyoh Mi cultural group said she needs to spare copious amounts of sacrifice, discipline and determination in order to realize her aspirations. "I still go home to Yagyagan," she said. "That's why after school, I literally have to run to the jeepney station to catch the last trip home."
The daughter of a storekeeper and a market porter, Roseann is the oldest of three surviving siblings. They lost a younger sibling due to an ailment. Roseann said her parents are proud that she was able to obtain a UC scholarship. "My mother was hardpressed to look for a benefactor in order to send me to college," Roseann who hopes to teach Filipino as a subject in the future, said.
"In high school we wore UC shirts as our athletic uniform and called ourselves the Project HELEN team. Now I am a UC student, that also makes me proud," she said.