July 14, 2023
Former Tzu Chi scholars join alumni association
By Joy Rojas
The recent 2023 Tzu Chi Scholars’ Camp didn’t just bring Tzu Chi scholars from Bicol, Pampanga, (Palo) Leyte, Iloilo, Zamboanga, and the National Capital Region together for three days of memorable bonding and life-changing values formation. It also saw former scholars reunite, first for a roundtable discussion on life after graduation, then to pledge their allegiance as alumni of the Tzu Chi Philippines College Scholars Association.
Composed of former Tzu Chi scholars, the association aims to maintain a talent pool of resource persons for scholars’ monthly Humanity classes. It also hopes to inspire volunteerism among the new generation of scholars.
Many Tzu Chi scholars have gone on to successful careers in their respective fields. Jhoy Sarmiento is a senior finance manager at Coins.ph. Jennielyn “Jeng” de Dios returns to Unilever after years as a finance professional of major multinational corporations. And certified public accountant Jeff Doolittle was named 2022’s No. 1 Adviser of the Year by Sun Life Philippines, where he is a business unit manager. All continue to volunteer to Tzu Chi whenever they can.
So have their fellow alumni Jamil Carvajal and Mary Rosedy “Dhy” Detasyon Antigua. Teachers by profession, these former Tzu Chi scholars have routinely answered the call to handle the Humanity classes of elementary-level scholars.
Jamil, who was also part of Tzu Chi Youth, even earned his volunteer’s gray shirt in 2016 when he joined longtime volunteers on a trip to Mangayon Elementary School in Compostela Valley, Davao. Tzu Chi helped reconstruct the remote public school following its destruction from Super Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) in December 2012.
“Among the things that Tzu Chu taught me is to serve many people,” says Jamil, who teaches Pilipino to senior high and college students. “So, when the uncles and aunties say they need our help in teaching, in molding the minds of the youth with values formation, we do it.”
For Dhy, volunteerism comes naturally. “Especially when you enjoy what you’re doing and nothing is forced,” says the elementary school teacher for the past eight years. “Tzu Chi instilled in us that what we do has purpose. We are motivated to love our fellow scholars back.”
Though they come from different batches of scholars, Jamil and Dhy once faced the same dilemma years ago: Both didn’t have the resources to go to college. Jamil’s father made a living as a waiter and valet parker, while the company where Dhy’s father worked had gone bankrupt.
“My mother told me that I would have to stop studying, but I didn’t want to stop,” says Dhy. “So, I tried to find a way by looking for a scholarship. That was the time Tzu Chi posted an announcement for scholarships at our school.” Dhy, who qualified for a Tzu Chi scholarship in 2013, graduated with a Bachelor of Elementary Education at the Philippine Normal University.
Jamil saw a similar announcement at the Student Affairs Office of the Pamatasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). Through a Tzu Chi scholarship in 2010 and 2011, he finished his BSEd in Pilipino at PLM.
Of course, the scholarship gave them more than access to quality education. It shaped them into becoming role models to the scholars who followed them.
“Respect your co-workers regardless of their status” is Dhy’s advice to graduating scholars preparing for employment. “Whether it’s the boss or utility man, we should show equal respect to all. When you respect them, you are respected in return.”
“Who we are today is clear evidence that Tzu Chi is able to produce alumni who remain grateful and willing to extend help to those who need it,” says Jamil. “Don’t choose a time to help. When you have the capacity to help, do it.”