The son of a Filipino farmer receives a full scholarship to Duke University

Edrian Paul Liao plans to lead Filipino agriculture into the 21st century. The 18-year-old from Isabela in the Philippines receives the Karsh International Scholarship. It will cover his entire journey, from plane tickets to tuition fees, at one of the best universities in the world: Duke University.

Liao strives for it Major in mechanical engineering, Minor in computer science and are aiming for a certificate in aerospace engineering. His ultimate goal? Providing microsatellites that can help home farmers minimize the harsh effects of weather.

Born the son of a farmer and midwife, Liao knows the potential impact of such technology. Farmers in the Philippines suffer typhoons, monsoons, and all kinds of natural disasters that can decimate their months of grueling labor in a matter of hours. “At least on this issue, I could help and strengthen the millions of farmers in the Philippines,” he says says in an interview with Manila Bulletin.

That’s not all. Liao is also the co-founder of π-oneers (pronounced “Pioneers”), a nonprofit that offers free online tutorials in math and science. This group helps around 350 high school members across the Philippines.

Below, we email this prospective Duke University student about his $ 328,000 scholarship, interest in STEM (an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math), and what advice he has for those who are in want to follow in his footsteps:

Where does your passion for STEM come from? Is there a personal history behind it?

STEM has many uses in our lives, but unfortunately I cannot see any significant impact in the Philippines. An example would be the annual typhoon season.

Liao plans to build microsatellites that could potentially help minimize the harsh effects of extreme weather conditions on crops. Source: Edrian Paul Liao

As a result, a large part of the farmers’ harvests is destroyed every year. Satellite technology has the greatest harm reduction potential, but in my country it still has no impact on the agricultural system. Hopefully when I return I can fulfill my hopes for a nationwide innovation.

Why did you apply for the Karsh International Scholarship to study at Duke University? Accompany us through the application process.

In addition to the full scholarship, the scholarship holders are also granted research or special project grants every year in order to enrich their passion and skills. As someone who loves initiating projects with passion, I was drawn to applying.

I also knew that I would meet many current scientists and alumni who, together, would form a strong, close, and above all diverse community. Applying to Duke University also meant I could apply for the merit-based scholarship programs.

I applied for an early decision. I received generous financial support last December, which prompted me to enroll immediately after receiving my letter of admission.

In March of this year I was informed that I was a finalist for the Karsh International Scholarship. We were then invited for orientation and went through the finalist process.

We had to submit long and short essays, an updated résumé and résumé, and attend an interview with the grant directors. In April, I was told that I had been selected as a recipient, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I am very grateful for this opportunity because admission to Duke University is already a great achievement for me.

What made you decide to study mechanical engineering, computer science and aerospace technology?

I wanted to choose degrees that would ultimately advance the Filipino industry. With these degrees, I hope to contribute to the improvement and expansion of my country.

Duke University

Liao is also the co-founder of π-oneers (pronounced “Pioneers”), a nonprofit that offers free online tutorials in math and science. Source: Edrian Paul Liao

Why did you choose Duke University and the United States?

There are so many reasons to choose the United States as a place to study. A new and collaborative environment, diverse possibilities and a diverse group of people are part of it.

Primarily, I chose the US because of its holistic method of selecting successful applicants. They take into account not only a person’s exams and grades, but also their character and potential.

“Scholarship in the Service of Society” is a quote that ultimately led me to choose Duke University. With its after school and school programs like Bass Connections and DukeEngage, this college is the perfect place to use my knowledge to improve the communities I belong to.

What difference do you think it would make if you went to a local institution to study?

In all honesty, there are many insights, knowledge, and opportunities that I would not have access to if I had stayed in the Philippines. However, this does not mean that the US is the only way to succeed. The most important factor is you as a person.

What are you looking forward to most in the US?

I look forward to immersing myself in a whole new culture, meeting people from different walks of life and, most importantly, taking advantage of opportunities that are unique to Duke University and the country.

As an international student, what did you prepare before your arrival?

Right now I’m planning my courses for the fall semester, looking for clubs and activities to join in, and studying a little to get used to the US education system. I speak to classmates and classmates for advice and possible friendships. I also ask for recommendations for restaurants and get tips on what to bring in order to enjoy (or survive?) A new environment.

Duke University

“STEM has many uses in our lives, but unfortunately I can’t see any noticeable effects in the Philippines,” Liao says, referring to a local education. Source: Edrian Paul Liao

What are your academic goals?

Discover my interests and passions now. I also want to maximize resources as much as possible, which includes improving my grades as much as possible, taking advantage of research and internship opportunities, and speaking to world-renowned professors. I also want to get in touch with people who will be helpful to me in my future career.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I’m still unsure of what to do after college. You either go to school or you work. After several years of experience, I plan to return to my home country.

Is there anything about home that you would miss most?

Definitely family and friends! Of course, I cannot replace them. But for sure I will meet a lot of people in the US and hopefully build a second family made up of friends, classmates, co-workers, Filipinos in the area and more.

Do you have any tips for students who want to apply for the same scholarship?

Do extensive and in-depth research on schools in the United States that offer the help or scholarship you want. Don’t let prestige blind you. Find the ones you know can thrive as a student and as a person alike.

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