The scholarship awards ceremony organized by Tzu Chi Bohol brought together both new and returning scholars and graduates at the Carmelite Learning Center in Tontonan, Loon Bohol on August 21, 2023. The event commenced with Brother James Chua delivering opening remarks, where he expressed the significance of the day for Tzu Chi Bohol Youth, who were fortunate to receive Tzu Chi Educational Assistance and become part of the Tzu Chi Family. He warmly welcomed students, parents, and all who enabled the assistance program, underscoring education as one of Tzu Chi’s four missions alongside charity, medicine, and humanity.

 The scholars arrive at Carmelite Learning Center to register and receive their scholar uniform.

Brother Jack Gaisano introduced the scholars in his capacity as Head of the Tzu Chi Bohol Education Assistance Program. He proudly presented the 322 Tzu Chi Bohol Scholars for the academic year 2023-2024, comprising 118 new scholars and 80 graduates, among whom 29 attained Latin Honors.

“We have 119 new scholars, we have 80 graduates with 29 Latin Honors. Hopefully, in the near term, we can reach many scholars, from 30 scholars to 1000-3000,” Bro Jack Gaisano stated.

The awarding of scholarships took place on a per-school basis. The certificates were handed to scholarship recipients alongside the volunteers. Returning scholars expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to continue their studies under the support of the Tzu Chi Foundation. The newly selected scholars radiated joy as they received their scholarship certificates.

Among the new scholars is Benjie Tajale, a 19-year-old residing in Cabog, Clarin Bohol. He’s a first-year student at Bohol Island State University-Main Campus, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology majoring in Civil Technology.

Benjie Tajale (left), a new scholar, receives his certificate of scholarship. He says the educational assistance is a blessing                                                            because his family is also struggling financially.

“I am super grateful because I am one of the lucky ones who got into Tzu Chi and I really didn’t expect to get this. I expected Tzu Chi to develop my skills and learn a lot of moral lessons, and I’m so thankful to Dharma Master Cheng Yen and the Tzu Chi Bohol Family for being one of your Scholars. Thank you,” Tajale stated.

Tajale’s family only lives in their grandparent’s house and his parents work hard just to sustain their needs financially. He believes that education is important especially when you finally have a degree in order for you to have a brighter future. Tajale expressed deep gratitude for the unexpected opportunity and anticipated personal growth and moral learning through Tzu Chi.

An old scholar, Rosezel Siculares, currently in her fourth year of college studying Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management at BISU Main campus, shared her transformative journey as a Tzu Chi scholar.

Rosezel Siculares one of the old scholars is a 4th year college from BISU Main campus taking up a Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management shares her experiences and feelings about being a Tzu Chi scholar.

“In 4 years at the Tzu Chi Foundation, I’ve experienced a lot, especially in joining donation drives, relief operations, and volunteering for different activities in Tzu Chi, I also learned from our Aunties and Uncles and also from Dharma Master Cheng Yen. It is an honor and a great privilege to be part of the foundation because it helps to boost my self-confidence, to know myself better, and to appreciate small things in life. For my last year in this foundation, I want to thank all the people behind this foundation, especially all the volunteers, Uncles, and Aunties. For my co-scholars, whatever hindrance in life especially for us students don’t give up and continue pursuing your dreams,” Siculares said.

Rhey Migriño, one of this year’s Summa Cum Laude awardees, conveyed in his speech the symbolism of the event as a token of commitment, dedication, and resilience.

Summa cum laude Rhey Migriño becomes emotional during his speech. He expresses his gratitude to Tzu Chi and its founder                    Dharma Master Cheng Yen for the opportunity to pursue his dream while helping others as volunteer.

“Let this event be the token of all our sleepless nights, unwavering volunteerism, and dedication to serving this humble institution and the community it vows to help. This event is a powerful reminder to all of us that amid formidable challenges, let-downs, and setbacks we have endured, we remain grounded and emerge even stronger than we were initially. We owe all of our success, not just to ourselves, but also to the people who have been with us throughout this journey,” Migriño stated.

Reflecting on the journey, Brother Joven Uy, Tzu Chi Bohol Deputy Coordinator, recalled the program’s humble beginnings in 2014 when only 34 new scholars were awarded. He expressed pride in the growth, with the current count reaching 322 scholars and emphasizing the commitment to the mission of education.

Local volunteer and Tzu Chi Bohol Deputy Coordinator Joven Uy proudly notes that the organization now supports over 300                                        students a year. He hopes to ‘break the 400 or the 500 barriers’ in the future.

“I am also proud because now we already have 322 scholars. When we started this scholarship I never realized or dreamed (I was hoping) that it would increase every year and now we have broken the 300 barrier and maybe in the near future we can break the 400 or the 500 barriers,” Brother Joven Uy stated.

The ceremony marked the 10th session of awarding educational assistance. For the academic year 2023-2024, the Tzu Chi Foundation granted scholarships to a total of 321 scholars, comprising 118 newcomers and 203 returning scholars. This support brought hope and joy to those striving to overcome financial obstacles and achieve their educational aspirations.

                          Tzu Chi volunteers and the 322 scholars gather for a group photo after the ceremony.