First batch of CENTEX students now college graduates, or graduating soon

They grew up in cramped houses on congested streets in Tondo. Their parents had a tough time making ends meet. Food was hard to come by. Staying in school was a much bigger challenge than what kids from privileged backgrounds could imagine.

For many families, the reality of poverty may seem inescapable. But sometimes, all that they need is to be alert to opportunities that may change the course of their lives–and seize them.

Fifteen years ago, the parents of 75 kids from Tondo might have spent long hours wondering if their kids would ever finish high school, let alone college. But that soon changed, thanks to the establishment of the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (CENTEX)–proof that education truly plays a pivotal role in leading people out of poverty.

CENTEX selected 75 bright but economically disadvantaged students for its pilot run in 1998 in Tondo, Manila. When they entered CENTEX, these four- to five-year-olds received quality education at a par with the best private schools in the country. Operating by virtue of a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Education and Ayala Foundation Inc., CENTEX was also supported by the City Government of Manila and Ayala Land. In 2000, the second CENTEX school opened in Bauan, Batangas.

Today, CENTEX Manila and Batangas continue to be model centers for public elementary education, and the seeds it has sown 15 years ago continue to bear fruit. Twenty-five from the original batch of 75 students recently graduated from college, while 30 more are expected to graduate this year.

Since childhood, Lester Lamparo dreamed of becoming a Green Archer. His dreams of going to the De La Salle University eventually came true with the help of CENTEX. Last year, he graduated with a degree in Mathematics.

Robelle Soratioza graduated with a degree in Information Technology from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, where she also served as an active student leader. Because of this, she received the school’s Leadership Award.

CENTEX also saw its first Magna Cum Laude graduate in the person of Asbel Elpos, who majored in Psychology at the Far Eastern University.

Lester, Robelle, and Asbel are just a few of the many outstanding CENTEX graduates. As the years go on, more CENTEX alumni will prove to be highly capable thinkers, professionals, and leaders. They will also serve as an inspiration for fellow CENTEX kids to never give up on their dreams of moving out of poverty.

Aside from supporting students through their grade-school years, CENTEX also believes in helping its graduates find opportunities to finish high school and college. By establishing the “Dreamcatcher Program,” CENTEX hopes to raise funds that will help its graduates finish high school.

CENTEX is still looking for partners. Supporting a CENTEX graduate through high school will make a lot of difference in their lives. Visit www.ayalafoundation.org/donate.php for details on how you can help and support CENTEX kids like Lester, Robel, and Asbel.

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