Aldrean Paul Alogon, Sigmahanon Scholar

Aldrean Paul Alogon graduated with High Honors from Philippine Science High School (PSHS) Western Visayas Campus in 2019. He also received the Excellence Award in Physics.

While in high school, he represented the Philippines at the International Olympiad for Astronomy and Astrophysics in India and Thailand.

He also won the Freeman Asian Scholarship, a full scholarship for a four-year course of study leading to a bachelor’s degree.

He is now enrolled at the Wesleyan University in Connecticut, one of the country’s premier liberal arts institutions.

As a child growing up in Sigma, Capiz, what were your dreams for your future?
I grew up wanting to be a doctor, a lawyer or a scientist. To tell you the truth, the first two were somehow planted in my head by the people around me, maybe because I had “above” average grades and that those professions are the most profitable if you have the capacity to ace them.

When did you begin to take an interest in science?
As a child, I enjoyed learning about all sorts of things, mostly about science. But it was still so vague to me then what a scientist actually does. My mother was a public elementary school principal. Whenever I visited her in her office-slash-library, I ended up reading the books for hours. Now that I think about it, if it weren’t for the donated books that my mom’s school had, I don’t think I’d ever be where I am today. I was quite blessed.

Who were your mentors?
It would be first and foremost my parents. I would say they did a great job of raising me. They had the perfect balance of love and discipline for me. My teachers were also great influences. They recognized my potential and helped me improve myself. Basically, everyone I have met in my life has mentored me in one way or another.

How did you find out about the scholarship program through Freeman Asian Scholarship?
I was sponsored by my high school to take the SAT (a standardized test used for college admission in the U.S.), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for study abroad. I started from this site called BigFuture where I could choose universities based on filters and Wesleyan University was one of the few universities left after filtering. It was my first time hearing about the school, but it immediately caught my attention.

The open curriculum and engaged student body were two of the reasons that compelled me to apply. It was all the better for me because I felt the mission of the Freeman Asian Scholarship was something I resonated with.

What is your field of study?
I am planning to study Physics and Economics.

You are a sophomore in college this school year. Are you engaged in distance learning?
We are doing hybrid learning. I am on campus and have three in-person classes and two online classes.

What challenges have you experienced with distance learning?
Based on my experience, the online class format has become tolerable, if not at par with in-person classes, in terms of the ability to deliver the material of the course. I did notice that my online classes are more demanding compared to in-person ones.

Online classes are exhausting yet it’s the best we can do right now. I always count myself lucky though, because back in the Philippines, internet connection and devices are still fundamental issues that need to be addressed.

How have you spent your time since the early closure of schools due to the pandemic?
I was supposed to go home to the Philippines but my family was anxious about the situation. I stayed with my cousin in Montana instead. They were so wonderful to me, giving me a place to stay and providing for me. We even went to Yellowstone during my niece’s birthday! I also worked as a Guggenheim Museum practicum student researcher for the time being.

What are your long-term goals after college?
I keep telling myself I want to become a government official someday, but after graduation I’m planning to build up my skill set and work experience. I hope to find a job in an international organization that is focused on my field of study.

What is your advice to young people who aspire to follow your path?
Always believe in yourself. Don’t feel down when people seem to be doing so well and you’re not; I feel you. It’s not a competition with others but with ourselves. Have a dream and a goal and do your best to achieve those dreams. Grab all available opportunities and those that are not available. Seek them out.

*Charie Albar is a travel writer and lifestyle blogger. She is the founder of Balay ni Charie Foundation, a grassroots organization that gives school supplies to the children in Capiz. She divides her time between Capiz and California.

Conversation with Capizeños is a series of interviews with Capizeños who are making a difference in their community.