Mark is a good student, finishing in the top three in his high school in the Philippines. But despite this accomplishment, going to college wasn’t a certainty. His parents’ medical issues meant the family budget was tighter than ever, and there just wasn’t anything extra to help pay for college fees.
Mark learned about Unbound’s scholarship program when Mary Jane Carpio, a community development worker with Unbound’s Antipolo program, visited the home of Mark’s younger cousin, Emmanuel, who lives just a few doors down from Mark and is sponsored through Unbound. She met Mark and started a conversation with him.
According to Mary Jane, “Mark is a good and intelligent boy that has a lot of potential, and these are the criteria for a scholarship application.”
Mark’s academic achievements, financial need and willingness to serve the community made him an ideal candidate for the scholarship program.
“[Unbound] gave me an opportunity to study in college,” Mark said. “After high school, I thought I would not be able to study in college. [The scholarship program] actually covers my tuition fee, financial assistance for my transportation and materials that I needed to have for my chosen field of study.”
With the scholarship, Mark had enough funds to enroll in one of the public universities. Though he originally wanted to study architecture, public universities where he lives don’t offer degrees in that field, and Mark decided to pursue civil engineering instead. When thinking about the future, he has high hopes.
“I want to pass my board exam and be a licensed civil engineer in the future,” Mark said. “In that way, I might be able to help my family and bring my younger cousins in school also. … I want to give them the best things in life, as much as I can.”
Being part of the scholarship program did more for Mark than just help with tuition. One of the requirements of receiving a scholarship is completing service hours by helping younger students in the Unbound sponsorship program. For Mark, that means helping them with letter writing and other activities.
Before joining the scholarship program, Mark saw himself as a shy person, but through his service hours he was forced outside his comfort zone and gained a new perspective.
“I was not a sociable person before,” Mark said. “Instead of using my free time outside, I would rather read books and do advance review on my subjects. But when I joined the foundation, it really changed me a lot. I thought that having many friends would just bring you to bad things, but it doesn’t. It actually completes who I am, and [my friends] are also an additional inspiration for me to strive more in my studies.
“[The] scholarship program does not only mean financial assistance,” Mark continued. “It also hones talents and skills and all the things that are hidden inside you.”
With his newly found confidence, Mark started expanding his activities beyond school and home. Though he is studying to become a civil engineer, he also has a talent for writing. He’s now part of the editorial team for his university’s newspaper, The Legacy. He’s even taken on the responsibility of being the leader of the Antipolo program scholars.
Mark continues to do well in school and is expected to graduate in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. When asked what advice he would give to others, he had this to say:
“Face problems with courage and strength, because God will always be there to make a way to help you out and bring a brighter tomorrow for you and for your family.”
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