MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — An 18-year-old student from Philippine Science High School earned praises from the public for receiving admission offers from prestigious schools in the United States.
No less than the PSHS System expressed how proud it is of Maria Charisma Estrella, who is enrolled in its Calabarzon campus, for getting slots at the New York University, with a scholarship grant, and Yale University – NUS College.
Estrella shared with reporters her journey and her motivation to pursue a career in the field of sciences one day.
“Over the course of the pandemic po kasi, with less to do, I tried po to search about college since siya na po yung next step po sa life ko po. I asked some friends and relatives if sa’n po kaya pwede. Then someone told me to try to apply to schools abroad po,” Estrella told reporters in an interview.
(Over the course of the pandemic, with less to do, I tried to search about college since it is the next step in my life. I asked some friends and relatives where could I go. Then someone told me to try to apply in schools abroad.)
“So ayun po, given the opportunity po, I tried to prepare po my application, undergo interviews and create essays din po. It’s a matter of win or lose situation po siya noon po eh. Kaya po, nakakagulat po na natanggap po ako kasi di ko po siya talagang ina-aim nang sobra po,” she said.
(So, given the opportunity, I tried to prepare my application, undergo interviews, and create essays as well. It’s a matter of a win-lose situation. It’s surprising that I was accepted because I didn’t really aim for it that much.)
Estrella said she had difficulties in sending documents and writing essays, but she was determined to finish it for her goal.
“Ilan po sa struggles ay yung pag-aasikaso po ng documents, since sobrang iba po siya dito sa Pilipinas. Ang dami pong kailangan na i-prepare po, saka i-contact po na mga tao para po makapag-provide po ng certificates po and credentials. Nahirapan din po ako sa pagsusulat po ng essays kasi po bukod po sa sobrang dami po, yung mga questions po kasi ay super vague po. So kailangan po talagang pag-isipan po nang mabuti kasi it serves as an avenue po to present yourself po other than academics,” she said.
(Some of the struggles are the preparation of documents since it is very different here in the Philippines, the other requirements, and contacting people for the required certificates and credentials. I also had a hard time writing essays because apart from the large number, the questions are super vague. So you really need to think carefully because it serves as an avenue to present yourself other than academics.)
“Thankfully naman po, in my journey, I have supportive parents and friends po na handang tumulong. Kahit nga po mga seniors na from other places po sa bansa, willing din po silang mag-guide kaya super blessed and grateful ko po sobra sa kanila.”
(Thankfully, in my journey, I have supportive parents and friends who are willing to help. Even seniors from other places in the country are also willing to guide so I am super blessed and grateful to them.)
Estrella is the eldest among three children. Her father is a practicing lawyer, while her mother is a professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University – Cavite.
She grew up loving science which heightened when her sister had leukemia. Thankfully, her sister was cured and it motivated her to learn more about the field of molecular biology.
“Growing up po, I was always fascinated by the inner workings of life. The intricate patterns, processes, and mechanisms of organisms never cease to amaze me. This curiosity of mine further heightened po when my sister was diagnosed with leukemia,” she said.
“It was a challenging time for our family as none of us know much about her illness. At that moment, I was inspired to further enrich my knowledge of molecular biology.”
Her interest is also inspired by the state of healthcare in the Philippines. She said she hopes to give her share of knowledge with researchers in the future.
“Also po, combined po nito ay (with this is) as a simple science-loving girl in the Philippines, poverty, lack of resources, and minimal research support are some of the issues na-encounter ko po at ng mga kaibigan ko po na nag-aaral (that my friends in school and I encountered). In this, one nationwide dilemma that has struck me the most po is the lack of proper healthcare in remote areas across our country,” Estrella said.
“Sa totoo lang po (Honestly), it was petrifying to know how unequipped, lacking, and insufficient po ako (I am) to provide any help or assistance as I am merely a high school student. But this idea came to a close when I was struck by the concept of making most of what I have po, which is access to education through those fields po,” she added.
Estrella dreams to become a doctor and researcher, exploring and bridging the fields of molecular biology and medicine.
“Kasi po, while studying, I saw po how molecular biology is a very promising field po that can change civilizations po lalo na po kapag coupled po siya with medicine,” she said.
(Because while studying, I saw how molecular biology is a very promising field that can change civilizations, especially when coupled with medicine.)
Her specific aim is to discover new things that would help cure diseases and the healthcare system in the country.
“In that way po, it’s possible to discover more cure po for diseases that can open an avenue po to greater research potential and accessibility rin po to healthcare. And given po sa opportunities na meron po ngayon, tina-try ko po talaga i-maximize and make the most out of it po,” she said.
(In that way, it’s possible to discover more cures for diseases that can also open an avenue to greater research potential and accessibility to healthcare. And given the opportunities I have now, I’m really trying to maximize and make the most out of it.)
Amid the crisis the country is facing, Estrella encouraged the public to aim high to help the marginalized.
“I would tell them na huwag po silang matakot mangarap and humingi po ng tulong kasi we have the same dreams naman po to make the world a better place to live in where, in particular po ay to make education and healthcare more accessible po to the people,” she said.
(I would tell them not to be afraid to dream and ask for help because we have the same dreams to make the world a better place to live in, in particular, to make education and healthcare more accessible to the people.)
“But still, ‘di ko rin naman po maitatanggi na mahirap po sa panahon ngayon. Pero I hope po na in these lowest times po ay sana mabigyan po sila ng motivation and drive na mag-take pa rin po ng risks, mag-trust po sa process, and mag-aral nang mabuti by doing their best. Ako rin naman po kasi nahihirapan, and there are times na iniisip ko po if when po kaya yung time ko. Pero ito na nga po. We are usually given opportunities the least we expect it po. Ayun lang po, laban lang po!”
(But still, I can’t deny the difficulties at present. But I hope that in these lowest times, I can give them the motivation and drive to still take risks, trust the process, and study hard by doing their best. I also have a hard time, and there are times when I wonder when my time is. But now is my time. We are usually given opportunities the least we expect it. That’s it. Fight!)
Another Philippine Science High School (PSHS) – Ilocos Region Campus graduate has received admission offers from two universities in the United States and one in Germany.
Dominic R. Navarro, who is part of the school’s batch 2021, was offered a spot at Jacobs University in Germany with a scholarship grant for BS Mathematics.
In the US, meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered him direct admission to the BBA Actuarial Science program of the Wisconsin School of Business.
Bentley University also offered him a Provost Scholarship for BS Actuarial Science.
Mico and his family recently launched a gofundme page to ask support from people around the world for his College fund.
Visit Dominic Navarro GoFundMe by clicking his name.
And yet, also another student from the Philippine Science High School – Central Mindanao Campus (PSHS-CMC) has been granted a full scholarship at Yale University in the United States.
A son of a farmer and an elementary school teacher, Nathan Wayne F. Ariston will study in the Ivy League school where he is planning to major in physics.
Ariston is also the first graduate of PSHS-CMC to be accepted in the prestigious university. He also received admission offers from three other universities.
In PSHS’ Facebook post, Ariston said that science and technology have always been close to his heart, as he aims to take advantage of the opportunity to give back to the country.
“The best way that I could give back to our country is through offering my soon-to-be expertise in STEM that I could acquire through this education grant to serve in whatever way I can the people immediately around, specifically in Maguindanao and the other Muslim Mindanao areas,” he said.
Edrian Paul Liao, a consistent honor student who hails from the City of Cauayan, Isabela, is now fully enrolled at Duke University, a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. He plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and pursue a certificate in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Computer Science.
Liao is one of the 11 recipients of the Karsh International Scholarship Program created to bring together top students from all over the world.
The Karsh International Scholars Program provides eight semesters of full tuition, exact housing charges, standard meal plan, mandatory fees (including student activity, student service, student health, recreation, dining hall, mailbox, and registration fees), and access to Karsh Scholarship-specific research and special project funding during both the academic year and summer.
The scholarship grant shall cover the yearly expenses amounting to $82,000.
“It still feels surreal to be awarded a highly selective and prestigious scholarship. Never have I thought that a probinsyano like me would get chosen for such a scholarship,” Liao said.
Flying to the United States in August, Liao is the first Filipino recipient of the Karsh International Scholarship Program created in 2010. It is a merit-based full scholarship for international students at Duke University.
“My father’s a farmer. All these years I have seen how difficult it is to be a Filipino farmer – typhoons, monsoons, the weather in general, and the low income they get from it. That is why as an aspiring aerospace engineer, I also want to provide farmers with the microsatellites that could potentially aid in minimizing the harsh effects of these different phenomena. At least for this issue, I could be able to help and uplift the millions of farmers in the Philippines,” said Liao.
According to Liao, he would love to work for space agencies and companies like Boeing, SpaceX, and NASA, building spacecraft, satellites, and rovers for a positive common cause. Someday, he also wants to work for the newly-established Philippine Space Agency, applying what he learned from his education, work, and internship experiences.
Studying PSHS-CVC in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and staying in its dormitory, he describes his Pisay education to be both rigorous and enlightening.
“I learned a lot from my stay at Pisay and will forever remember them even after my undergraduate studies. Personally, I think that without Pisay, I would not be garnering these wonderful achievements,” Liao said.
He co-founded π-oneers (read as pioneers), a non-profit organization consisting of about 350 members all over the Philippines that offer free online tutorial in math and science to high school students.
“Just do what you can with resources that you have right now. If something bad comes up, ask for help from your teachers and peers. They’ll surely understand you. Or maybe you can message me. I’m only one chat away if you need academic guidance,” said Liao as his advice to Filipino students facing the challenges of remote/virtual learning.