Despite the continued disruption brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, twenty-two-year-old Renelyn Udtohan of Valencia, Negros Oriental graduated summa cum laude from her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics course at the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU), one of the premier public academic tertiary institutions in the province.
Her achievement is even more special because it is the highest graduation honors attained so far among alumni of the prestigious SIKAT scholarship program of Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the country’s pioneer and largest renewable energy (RE) producer.
SIKAT identifies deserving high school graduates within EDC’s geothermal energy production sites across the country and helps them gain acceptance into state universities and colleges, primarily the University of the Philippines (UP) system.
SIKAT further supports their college education not only financially but through personality and social development skills. SIKAT’s assistance further extends to mentoring, career guidance, and board exam review sessions if needed. Then, through job placement assistance, SIKAT graduates are able to find jobs within EDC or elsewhere in the private or public sector.
“SIKAT takes precedence among EDC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives because it has demonstrated the capability of education to break intergenerational poverty within marginalized communities,” states Atty. Allan V. Barcena, EDC assistant vice president and head of the company’s corporate relations and communications division.
Established in 2011, SIKAT has so far sent a total of 256 scholars to state colleges and universities, and produced a total of 133 graduates, 75 percent of whom are now gainfully employed in the private sector.
For 2022, SIKAT produced 43 graduates, including Udtohan as its first summa cum laude, along with two magna cum laude graduates from Sorsogon State University and UP–Visayas, and 16 cum laude graduates. This year’s batch also includes an additional 15 graduates belonging to various groups of indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao, specially selected to be part of the SIKAT program.
Half of the ten SIKAT graduates from the Bicol region had Latin honors namely Federico Dio Jr, who’s one of the two magna cum laude of this batch of SIKAT scholars, and four cum laude graduates – John Rey Abellano, Rian Daep, Genlie Monreal, and Emmalyn Nolong. All of them graduated from Bicol University and Sorsogon State College.
SIKAT also supports young students in basic education. As part of its annual outreach activities, the program distributes school supplies and participates in the Department of Education’s Brigada Eskwela drive. To date, SIKAT assists 90 public schools as part of its yearly outreach program, benefitting more than 20,000 children. The program also extends financial assistance to selected K–12 students, apart from training for teachers and tutorial sessions for the kids.
For her part, Udtohan recognizes the invaluable help that SIKAT has provided scholars like her. “We were able to become individuals we could never have imagined before,” she said.
“As we move forward, remember to pay it forward. Let us continue to serve our community and be a source of hope for the next generation,” she also reminded her fellow graduates and scholars.
Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is First Gen Corporation’s 100-percent RE subsidiary with over 1,480MW total installed capacity that accounts for 19 percent of the country’s total installed RE capacity. Its 1,188MW geothermal portfolio comprises 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and is the third largest geothermal producer in the world.
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