NINE women outstanding graduates from public high schools receive recognition and cash grant from the Zonta Club of Cebu 1 during a recognition activity on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Jane Panganiban, president of Zonta Club of Cebu 1, told SunStar Cebu the activity started in 2021. Since then, they decided to make it yearly to recognize young women who had been outstanding in school and have become active leaders or individuals in their community.

Panganiban said they aim to make these women become future leaders.

“The advocacy of Zonta is to fight against violence against women and girls. When we fight, we want to create a better world for them. One of the main things that will make them better is education,” Panganiban added.

Out of 25 applicants this year, only nine students passed from the careful deliberation and screening done by the organization.

Some categories looked into are their academic performance, writing and speaking skills and their involvement with the community.

“We choose public school students, considering most of them have fewer resources, yet they manage to excel in their studies,” said Panganiban.

The selected students were given a one-time cash grant of P20,000, a Zonta medal and a certificate of recognition as outstanding graduates.

They will also become Zonta ambassadors who will encourage the youth to finish their studies in their respective schools.

One of the lucky students chosen, Donerose Saromines, 18, from Basak Community High School in Barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City, said that studying is the key to achieving everything she wants in life.

“The importance of education in our life cannot be measured. If you are smart and work hard, everything else will follow,” said Saromines.

Francine Grace Mancelita, 19, a graduate of the Cebu City National Science School, said studying helps her expand her knowledge and satisfy her growing curiosity.

She is now studying at Velez College, taking a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Medical Technology.

Saromines plans to buy a laptop with her cash which she said she would use for her studies, while Mancelita would use her prize to pay her tuition and help victims of the recent fire in Barangay Looc in Mandaue City.