A Philippine Science High School (PSHS)–Calabarzon student from Silang, Cavite is among several students who received admission offers from top universities abroad.
Maria Charisma Estrella, 18, earned plaudits online after she was offered a spot at the New York University with a scholarship grant for a dual degree program for BS Biology and BS Biomolecular Engineering.
Moreover, she also got a slot in Yale-NUS College in Singapore with inclined interest toward Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
Estrella graduated in May as a member of PSHS-Calabarzon’s pioneer batch of students.
She is the eldest daughter of her father who is a practicing lawyer and her mother who is a professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University – Cavite.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Estrella shared that she did not find the application process as easy, specifically in submitting the requirements.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Despite these difficulties, her supportive family and friends joined her journey and pushed her to accomplish it.
At an early age, Estrella fell in love with science but the case of her sister who recovered from leukemia motivated her more to discover the field of molecular biology and medicine and to become a doctor-researcher.
“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.”
Estrella’s another inspiration to dwell into these fields of science is the state of the country’s healthcare.
“[P]overty, 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. In this, one nationwide dilemma that has struck me the most po is the lack of proper healthcare in remote areas across our country,” she said.
After college, she plans to educate researchers as well as to help cure diseases.
She also encouraged her fellow youth to not be afraid to dream big so they could help those in need in the future.
Estrella has yet to decide on which esteemed university that offered her admission she will enroll in as of now.