Mentorship program brings hope of UP education

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From almost working as a house help, in lieu of studying, to support her poor family, Clarence Gamez (second from left) is now a proud University of the Philippines–Visayas graduate—thanks to an innovative college scholarship and mentorship program

From almost working as a house help, in lieu of studying, to support her poor family, Clarence Gamez (second from left) is now a proud University of the Philippines–Visayas graduate—thanks to an innovative college scholarship and mentorship program

Clarence Gamez was among the top-ranked graduating students of Ramon Torres Louisiana National High School in Bago City, Negros Occidental. But instead of pursuing a college degree, she simply wanted to find a job as a house helper because it meant earning at least P3,000 monthly for her poor family.

Today, more than four years later, Gamez is a proud graduate of the University of the Philippines-Visayas and looks forward to having a stable, good-paying job in Manila or in her home province, thanks to an innovative college scholarship and mentorship program of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), a global leader in geothermal energy and the country’s renewable energy production pioneer.

Unlike typical scholarship programs, EDC’s College Admission Review and Readiness (Careers) program helps prepare underprivileged but high-potential public high school graduates, some of whom have not yet even heard of the University of the Philippines (UP), for entrance examinations in the premiere educational institution and other top state universities and colleges nationwide.

The program also helps successful applicants to maintain their college education while imbibing them with leadership skills and values formation through enrichment workshops and community service.

Careers helps produce college graduates who can compete with their urban counterparts to seek and enjoy gainful employment in companies, to help them secure a brighter future and bring their families out of poverty, and empower them to become future nation builders.

Every year, EDC’s corporate social responsibility team mobilizes partner public high schools in Albay, Sorsogon, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and North Cotabato to invite top performing candidates like Gamez to sign up for the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), helping them choose the best courses suited to their capabilities.

The next step involves three weeks of intense summer review classes in selected public schools conducted by teachers enlisted by EDC to help prepare the Careers candidates for the entrance exam for UP.

Those who pass the entrance test are guided through the enrolment process at different UP campuses nationwide. This also involves getting them into dormitories and providing assistance for their basic needs such as stipend for food, books, and school supplies.

Throughout their stay at UP, Careers scholars are closely monitored by EDC personnel, foster parents who ensure they can cope with their studies while being away from their families.

Mentoring activities such as enrichment workshops and solidarity building events are held annually to develop the scholars’ leadership potential and goal-setting attitude.

Upon graduation, the scholars are provided job placement support by preparing them for career planning, job interviews and teaching them how to prepare CVs, among others.

EDC officials just celebrated the accomplishments of Gamez and other Careers scholars with a graduation program at the EDC office in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

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