DUBAI // A Filipino teenager will today be able to thank former students of his university for giving him the chance to complete his studies without driving his mother into penury.
Jaymar Santillan, 17, a second-year accounting student at the University of the Philippines' Visayas campus, is the second scholar aided by the UAE former students group.
Since Jaymar's father died of a heart attack in 2005, his mother Jocelyn, 49, has supported him and his sister Jeline Marie, 18, by working as a domestic helper in Antique province.
The university waived his tuition fees because of the family's low income - only 18,000 pesos (Dh1,500) a year.
And since the start of this year his rent, food and other costs have been covered by an annual grant from the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in the UAE.
The group has run its Adopt-A-Scholar programme, for students whose families make no more than 250,000 pesos a year, since 2007. The 78,000-peso grant includes a book subsidy and monthly cost-of-living allowance.
Today Jaymar will talk by phone to the association's annual meeting in Dubai to tell how the grant aided him. The group hopes his feedback will help them to improve the scheme for future years.
He says the grant motivated him to work harder.
"I used to be really shy and rarely participated in class," said Jaymar, from Antique in the central Philippines. "Now I'm motivated and inspired by the scholarship. I need to perform well and give my best.
"I shouldn't waste this great opportunity. Other poor students also deserve the scholarship but I was lucky to have been chosen."
Jaymar was looking forward to talking to the association.
"I've already prepared an outline of what I'm going to say," he said. "I'll thank them for choosing me and for their efforts to help me."