MANILA, Philippines – One of Bea de Leon’s avid fans just found another reason to admire her favorite volleyball player.
Little did Raphaella Ayen Retuta know that tagging the Choco Mucho middle blocker on Twitter would have a profound effect in her present and future.
After finishing her secondary education with high honors, it was no surprise that Retuta got accepted into Ateneo’s BS Management program. Aside from being diligent in academics, the teen fan balanced it by being active in extracurricular activities.
Unfortunately, Retuta didn’t get a scholarship to her “dream school” due to limited slots. She somewhat accepted her fate, but still felt grateful and shared it on social media.
“I wasn’t awarded with the scholarship I was aiming for – but glad to know that you want me, Ateneo. haay my dream school, in another life,” said Retuta in April 2022, tagging De Leon and former Ateneo basketball star Thirdy Ravena.
De Leon saw the tweet and felt it might be time to pay it forward, especially after learning that Retuta very much deserved a chance.
The former Ateneo standout recalled that back in 2014, she was reluctant to accept an athletic scholarship. But she then thought the opportunity might also give her a chance to give back.
A few years later, De Leon found the perfect time to share her blessings. From an idea that started from an online exchange with Retuta, the popular spiker established the Bea de Leon Scholarship.
Accompanied by her mother, the 26-year-old De Leon was able to sign a memorandum of agreement with Ateneo school officials led by president Fr. Bobby Yap, SJ, last January 27.
It was there the fan and the idol met face-to-face for the first time, months after De Leon sent the student a Twitter direct message sharing the good news.
Retuta, the first recipient of the eponymous scholarship, said she had been a fan of De Leon’s ability to excel in both academics and athletics, her “heartstrong” personality, and faith in God.
“Thank you for granting me a dream come true, Ate! Mas pagbubutihin pa (I will do even better),” Retuta posted on Twitter. “May God continue to bless you and your family! I will forever be grateful.”
De Leon also congratulated Retuta for being an “exemplary student.”
“May you serve to be an inspiration to others to continue working hard in pursuit of their dreams,” she said.
De Leon’s traits, Retuta shared, “inspire her to be limitless in achieving her goals, to strive amidst trying times and to treat everyone with an open heart and give back to the community whenever possible.”
Retuta told Ateneo’s official website that the support of the De Leon family to her education “challenges [her] to do well,” and inspires her to, hopefully, pay it forward too.
As the Ateneo scholar tweeted: “Hold on to your dreams and make them count!” – Rappler.com
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