GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Feb. 21 — When he was born, her mother discovered he was different from other kids in their village.

Marlito Soriano (left) at Northeastern University in Boston.
Marlito Soriano (left) at Northeastern University in Boston.

At two years old, Jualina Soriano says her son, Marlito Jr., could already identify most of the names of animals. Her son, who most of the time go to school without taking a breakfast because their income was not enough to cover their daily needs, finished his elementary with honour and valedictorian in high school.

Now at Northeastern University in Boston where he was taking up BS Accountancy major in Business International, Marlito landed in their school’s Dean’s List during their Fall 2015 semester.

He is a scholar of the country’s biggest port operator, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (Ictsi), which is supporting his and another student’s education in the United States.

“By God’s grace, he was in their school’s Dean’s List. We are happy for him. He told me he was not expecting it because he was still adjusting in language, climate and food when he started his schooling last year. He hoped that he can maintain his academic standing throughout his schooling,” Jualina said.

To be included in US University’s Dean’s List, a student must earn a 3.500 grade-point average to higher with no incomplete grade or grade below a C-.

“He told me being poor or being an Indigenous People, is no a hindrance to get a degree in college. One should not boost and must look back where he came from. That’s what he keeps on telling me when he returned home for Christmas,” Juanita said, adding his son wanted to become a source of inspiration for the children.

In his Facebook post, Marlito confirmed that he was in their school Dean’s List.

“As requested! Yes!! I am in the Dean’s list! Thank you Lord and to all who prayed and supported me,” he said.

In the same Facebook post, Marlito showed an email of Susan Ambrose, Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Experimental Learning of Northeastern University, who congratulated him on earning a place on the Dean’s List for his outstanding academic performance during the fall 2015 semester.

“Clearly, you have devoted much time and energy to your academic studies and your hard work and commitment have paid off,” Ambrose said.

“Your success in meeting the University’s high academic standards should be a source of great satisfaction and pride. The General Studies director and advisors, University faculty and I are very much impressed by your accomplishment,” she added.

Aside from full tuition, monthly stipend, and board and lodging, Marlito’s grant would allow him to come home to the Philippines every year.

When he finishes his course in Northeastern, he must work for at least two years in a Filipino company as part of the contract with Ictsi.

A grantee of Conditional Cash Transfer program, Marlito, 17, the eldest of six children, graduated valedictorian from New Society National High School in this city. Before getting a scholarship grant, he had planned to find a job after high school to sustain a college education that, at first, seemed to be a highly remote possibility—until the scholarship came.

His father, a tricycle driver, earns barely enough to feed the family, much less send children to college.

“Three of my children are still covered by the government’s CCT program and it help us a lot,” Juanila said.

Under its conditions, the CCT allocates grants P500 to P1, 400 for each beneficiary household, depending on the number of eligible children. Each family is allowed a maximum of three children to receive the monthly benefits.

It calls children aged 3 to 18 to stay in school and maintain class attendance of at least 85 percent each month. Pregnant women are also required to avail pre- and post-natal care, and delivery must be assisted by skilled health personnel, while parents are mandatory to take “family development sessions” to enable them to become better parents. (End)