Karl Angelo Lorenzo, currently an Area Operations Supervisor-Trainee for Southstar Drug branches in Calaca, Lemery, Bauan, and Laurel, Batangas, is one of the recipients of Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF)-Gokongwei Group STEM Scholarship for Excellence (STEM-SFE). Karl’s journey with the GBF started when he was 18 years old, a junior at Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
His inspiring story began when Southstar Drug representatives visited Karl’s school offering college scholarships for students interested in pursuing careers in Pharmacy. Though hesitant at first to pursue his scholarship application, he thought of his mother whom at that time was singlehandedly raising three children. After his conversation with his Department Chairman, Karl realized the full benefits of the scholarship and a possible opportunity to work with the prestigious Gokongwei Group.
The Gokongwei Brothers Foundation was established by John Gokongwei Jr., the founder of the Gokongwei Group with his brothers Henry, Johnson, and James back in 1992. Under the same STEM-SFE scholarship program as Karl’s, the foundation is currently looking for 60 new scholars enrolled in select STEM college courses in centers of excellence.
Over the last 30 years, GBF has become one of the country’s largest private-sector provider of STEM scholarships. Last year alone, GBF supported more than 700 scholars and educators under various programs.
“The Gokongwei Brothers Foundation funded my full tuition and monthly allowance in my third and fourth year in college. It also covered my review course for the board. At graduation, I received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy with a leadership award. I also received the Philippine Pharmaceutical Association Leadership Award,” says Karl.
After passing the boards, Karl joined Southstar Drug as a branch pharmacist in May 2018. That same year, he became in charge of the branch in Lemery, Batangas. Success continued to come his way as he was promoted to Store Head in January 2020, and assumed the role of Operations Trainer for Region IV by the end of the year.
Karl is a firm believer of the importance of education, a value that his mother instilled in him growing up. He expresses his unending gratitude to the GBF for helping him achieve his dreams.
“Kahit gaano kahirap ang process that I went through, I had my mind set on finishing college. I knew that one day it would be a bridge for me to achieve great things. I’m grateful to the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation for putting me on the path where I am now. GBF helps so many students like me who do not have the financial capacity to pursue their education,” says Karl.
When the pandemic hit, working in the frontlines was challenging especially for healthcare workers like Karl. But being able to assist people somehow prevented his fears to consume him. “It was a challenge, but it was a fulfilling one. Ang hirap pero ang saya sa pakiramdam knowing we were there for others,” he shares.
During the pandemic, Karl took the chance to learn how to help his patients further through online courses. He finished a two-month certificate course in Harvard Medical School focusing on HMX Fundamentals Pharmacology to understand how drugs act in the body which is vital for effectively treating patients. He also participated in activities such as Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19 from Harvard Medical School Cardiovascular Considerations for Patients, Health Care Workers, and Health Systems from Stanford University School of Medicine.
This year, Karl celebrated his fifth year in Southstar Drug alongside his 25th birthday. With the success he has been achieving with the help of Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, he wants to shed light and hope to dreamers like him who grew up in the same situation, and be a catalyst of a better Filipino community. “I would like to use my voice as a pharmacist to tackle that advocacy, pushing for better care for our patients,” says Karl.
“When I became a scholar of GBF, I learned about the core values of the Gokongwei Group. They have been my guiding principles in being the best I can possibly be to achieve my dreams,” says Karl.
Like Karl, outstanding college students in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, can receive scholarships from the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation with the goal of making a lasting impact on our nation’s education.
“At the Gokongwei Group, nagtutulungan kami, walang naiiwan. That’s what I like about this team. We work not just for ourselves but for the whole community. We are a diverse group, iba’t iba ang tao and we are all growing together,” shares Karl.
To this day, Karl Lorenzo continues to achieve his dream of helping his patients improve their quality of life through medication. Thus, his Gokongwei Group journey continues.
For more information on ongoing applications for various Gokongwei Brothers Foundation scholarships, visit gokongweibrothersfoundation.org. Application deadline is in July.