At 18, she already soared high and her dreams are set to fly.

Carla Santos, a Virlanie scholar, graduated Magna Cum Laude with the degree of BS Hospitality Management at the Manila Business College last June 24.

Carla came from a poor family and has been living in the urban slums of Tondo, Manila. She is a sponsored child of an American citizen since first year high school through the Virlanie Foundation’s Family Program (FP). FP is part of the Outreach Program of the foundation, which helps the families of poor communities in Metro Manila, including Tondo, where Carla and her family are currently residing.

Among the four siblings, Carla is the first one to finish a college degree in the family. They used to live as informal settlers along the highway, but they were relocated to San Pedro in the province of Laguna. At present, they are renting a small apartment in Tondo.

While Carla became successful academically, her path towards success was not easy. Her mother works as a babysitter and only earns 5,000 pesos monthly, while her father has been unemployed since the start of this year. In school, she almost lost her academic scholarship when she was not able to join a school trip required in one of her subjects. She and her parents also could not afford cooking tools and materials, travel and tours, books, and class projects necessary for the completion of her degree.

Despite all the trials Carla and her family had to face, they remained resilient and moved forward through a scholarship provided by the foundation. Carla’s mother shared, “Virlanie’s initiatives have been a great help to us. They help many families in the community, especially the financially-challenged people like us.”

Carla’s dream is to have her own hotel and restaurant, and to make it possible, she said, “If there are trials, don’t give up easily, instead use these as motivations to move forward with your life.” (SPPasiona)