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SIXTY underprivileged youths were awarded scholarships at the annual Hong Leong Group Scholarship Awards held at Wisma Hong Leong, Kuala Lumpur.

Every year, the group awards scholarships to deserving Malaysian students from underprivileged backgrounds to help them pursue a higher education.

Three types of scholarships are awarded –the Hong Leong Undergraduate, Masters and Reach Out and Rise (ROAR) Education Development programmes.

Since its establishment in 1992, the foundation has funded RM30.3mil in education opportunities for 939 scholars, with RM1.4mil in scholarships given out this year.

“Skills, vocational training and tertiary education are all part of our tools. Our approach towards education support has always been holistic.

"It is not just about good academic scores, but also the fire in your belly that makes you a Hong Leong scholar,” she said.

The group is a strong advocate of education as an empowerment tool that breaks the cycle of poverty.

As such, it has a deep commitment to invest in the communities it operates within and has set aside the necessary funds for this purpose, regardless of the business environment.

Coming from a family of four boys, Kenneth Paul Martinez, 21, from Kinabatangan, Sabah he said it was tough for his father who is currently unemployed, and mother, who is a clerk, to financially support his education.

“My parents did not have the opportunity to further their studies, so my brother and I have vowed to break the cycle by being the ones to continue studying.

“They have dedicated their whole life to us and it’s great to know that the Hong Leong Group Scholarship can help ease my family’s burden,” said the aspiring scientist.

Kenneth is doing his second year in Biomedical Science at Manage-ment and Science University, and aims to obtain a master's degree majoring in Microbiology.

“Always dream your dreams and work hard for them. You may not get the opportunities now, but don’t give up, because eventually they will appear in front of you,” he said.

Recipient of the ROAR scholarship award, Nur Fariza Amira Mohamed Faizal, said, “This takes the financial pressure off my family as my mother is a single parent. She’s supporting all three of us, who are still studying, with her baking business.

“Also, the ROAR programme has given me the opportunity to make new friends,” said the 18-year old from Puchong who works as a part-time fitness trainer to help supplement her mother’s income.

The bubbly Diploma in Business student will go on to pursue a degree in Accounting at HELP University, as she wants to be an accountant some day.

The ROAR programme is a collaboration between Hong Leong Foundation and humanitarian organisation SOLS 24/7, helping students from difficult backgrounds with the passion and drive to succeed academically.

Recipients of the ROAR scholarship receive funding for academic fees, food and accommodation as well as an intensive enrichment programme, mentorship and soft-skills training for a holistic development.

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