Master Cheng Yen once said, “No matter how knowledgeable a person is, the most important things are to remember one’s roots and look after one’s character.” After all, education is not just about planting the skills and knowledge to the minds of the learners, but also cultivating their hearts with love and care as we build their whole character.

This teaching became the highlight during the conduct of Educational Assistance Awarding Ceremony at Bohol Wisdom School, on July 27, 2019. The said ceremony was participated by eighty-six (86) existing scholars, one-hundred eleven (111) new scholars and sixteen (16) graduates of tzu Chi Foundation.

As early as twelve o’clock in the noon, the scholars along with their parents flocked together inside Bohol Wisdom School’s gymnasium. The feeling is so new to them as excitement is seen clearly on their smiling faces—hoping that being a part of Tzu Chi Scholars will be the start for them to reach their dreams.

Big smiles continued to give life to the crowd as the awarding of certificates happened—the proof of their hard work and perseverance. One of these is the Certified Public Accountant, Ms. Rhuda Alverastine, who eventually received Tzu Chi’s Excellence Award for graduating as cumlaude at Holy Name University with a degree of Bachelor of Science and Accountancy.

Rhuda grew up in a financially challenged family. She was a recipient of one of her school’s scholarship before, but since she didn’t attain the minimum requirement, she eventually lost it. She met Tzu Chi Foundation by the time her friend brought her to apply for Tzu Chi Scholarship and though she doesn’t have any idea what Tzu Chi is, she still applied for it—and luck is on her side by the time she was accepted.

According to her, she was very thankful for the two years of being a Tzu Chi Scholar. She had learned a lot with her experiences; she met a lot of people and knew their stories about their success and struggles; she gained real-life mentors; strangers became her friends and friends became her family. Indeed, her stay in the roller coaster ride of Tzu Chi gave a big impact in her life.

And now that she’s where she wants to be, she wants to remind the blooming scholars of Dharma Master’s teaching, to humble themselves even if they have already achieved their goals.

“Take full responsibility of your studies and take it seriously and it’s okay to enjoy but always put in mind that your studies are your priority. Always be grateful Tzu Chi Foundation. Remember that you have boundless and endless potentials and talents as what Master Cheng Yen said. God Bless you! Thanks!” Rhuda reminded the scholars dearly.

This well-said speech surely touched the hearts of the existing and new scholars of Tzu Chi Foundation. Rhuda’s words served as a living reminder to everyone especially to the new Tzu Chi Scholars. According to them, they will do their best to take care of the opportunity being given to them. The new scholars are wearing their big smiles as they are now officially a part of Tzu Chi Scholars.

One of them is Dianne, who inspired the crowd with her story. She is a product of a broken family and is living with her aunt. She applied for different job just for her to proceed in college, since her father and mother cannot support her studies. Yet, through the storms, she still stood up for her dreams.

“I am Dianne Balili and I am very thankful and happy that I am now officially part of Tzu Chi Scholar. I will do my best to maintain the scholarship since this is very important to me. Thank you so much, Tzu Chi Foundation!” Dianne thanked happily.

Another member in the family is Eunice Jay Mosequera who showed strength and determination to finish her studies. Her mom, who is their family’s bread-winner, works as a basket weaver. Every night, she helps her mom in weaving the basket and if there’s chances, she’ll apply for a work just to sustain their needs, and for her to have something to spend for school miscellaneous.

“I am Eunice Jay Mosequera, now that I’m officially part of Tzu Chi, I’m very thankful and blessed because despite of all the trials and circumstances in applying for Tzu Chi Scholarship, I already made it! I passed. Thank you so much Tzu Chi Foundation!” Eunice expressed happily.

“And now that I’m already part of Tzu Chi Foundation, I feel so grateful. I’ll promise that they will not regret the day they chose me to be a part of Tzu Chi. I will do my best as I have this chance to proceed in college.” She added sincerely.

From the land of Sierra Bullones are the twins—Wealthy and Marichan Ladesma, who worked for almost 6 years for them to be able to continue studying and to have a place to live since they do not have their own house. They are very happy since this scholarship will surely help them to achieve their dreams.

“As a scholar of Tzu Chi Foundation, Wealthy and I are very happy because the Lord has answered all of our prayers. Tzu Chi cannot just only help us to finish our studies, but can also help us to become a good member of the society. We can have the opportunity to serve the community even if we do not have money.” The twins said with a cheerful smile.

“I hope Tzu Chi will continue expanding its help especially to those who want to finish their studies, to those who are poor and in need of help and also those who are poor and in need of help and also, those who are juvenile will change their selves and will have the heart to help the community.” They added.

Indeed, this day is worth to remember. As for the new and existing scholars, the chance given for them will be a great help not only in reaching their dreams, but also in lending their big hand to those who are in need. For the Tzu Chi Scholars graduate, the teachings and experiences will be their guide as they continue to walk on the path they have chosen.

As we instill our minds with knowledge and skills, may we never forget to enrich our hearts with wisdom and love as we continue to build our character in pursuing who we want to be.