April 25, 2024
 

Decades of research consistently point to a link: women with higher levels of education are empowered to take control of their lives and drive positive change in their communities.

This deeply resonates with the SM Foundation, an advocate of educational advancement for over 40 years. Through its scholarship program, the SM Foundation has witnessed firsthand how education empowers youth, including young women, from low-income backgrounds to reach their full potential and become agents of positive change.

One of SM Foundation’s thousands of scholars is Jonalyn Sarmiento-Forneas, now thriving in a multinational IT company.

Pursuing dreams against the odds

(first from right) Jonalyn finished IT in 2014 with a strong desire to support her family and pursue personal growth

 

Jonalyn finished IT in 2014 with a strong desire to support her family and pursue personal growth.

Jonalyn’s journey began amidst familial challenges, with separated parents and financial instability looming over her future. Her mother, a hard-working caddy and the main provider of the family, would have had a hard time shouldering the burden of college for both her and her sibling.

“Without the scholarship, I would likely be unable to afford my tuition fees and other essential expenses required for attending college,” she shared, adding that the scholarship wasn’t merely a financial support but a door to better opportunities.

With the SM scholarship as the foundation for her dreams, she was able to focus on her studies and finish a course in IT in 2014.

Taking her scholarship with a deep sense of responsibility, she utilized her college years to gain industry knowledge and to hone life skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and time management so she can be better equipped once she enters professional settings.

Thriving in the real world

She immediately landed a position at SM Group’s Tagaytay Highlands, using her first year after college to apply her newfound knowledge, hone her skills, and gain valuable experience.

Years of hard work fueled by her desire to support our family and her own personal growth finally culminated in her becoming a project manager in a multinational IT firm. Advancing in a male-dominated field, she now leads the planning, executing, and completing projects, ensuring the timely delivery of various projects.

But for her, success isn’t solely defined by professional achievements but by personal growth and fulfillment. Through her thriving seven-year career in tech, she now finds joy in mentoring and supporting others, cherishing moments where she can make a positive impact on someone’s life.

“Knowing that I’ve made a positive impact on someone’s life is rewarding in itself. It’s heartening to see my co-workers benefit from the information and guidance I offer, and I’m glad to be able to contribute to their well-being and success in whatever small way I can,” she said.

Jonalyn advances in a male-dominated field, now leading the planning, executing, and completing projects.

Beyond this, Jonalyn actively supports her company’s initiatives that provide access to education for those in need. For her, passing on the kindness she experienced through her scholarship is a way of perpetuating a cycle of social good.

From a student doubting whether she’ll be able to step into college, she has come far and has thrived in her corporate career, achieving a leadership role as a project manager in a male-dominated industry while playing an active role in her family’s life.

This success allows her to balance a career that provides a secure and comfortable life for her daughter while maintaining a strong presence in her child’s life.

Looking back at her journey, she said: “Keep working hard and nothing is impossible. People are bound to experience hardship, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I now have access to a wider range of job prospects, higher earning potential, and opportunities for professional growth and advancement. I can also provide support to my family financially and provide education to my child,” she capped.

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