‘Mangyan at heart’ earns CLSU honor
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ — Rushing to attend the recognition program of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) here on June 27, 20-year-old Shira Amina Olivares broke the heel of her left shoe. She took off the other shoe and proceeded to the program site.
Barefoot, Olivares, a magna cum laude graduate, went on stage to receive her presidential award for academic excellence amid cheers from 1,978 members of the graduating class.
Talking about her “minor accident,” Olivares, who garnered a grade point average of 1.27, said: “Let’s keep our feet on the ground.”
“They say we are scholars of the country but may I say let’s become scholars for the country,” she said.
On Friday, wearing her cap and gown and a brand-new pair of shoes, Olivares received her diploma for completing her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree at the CLSU 66th graduation rites.
She said earning the degree carried her four-month experience at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, last year under the Fulbright global undergraduate exchange program.
Born in Cabanatuan City, Olivares and her three siblings were raised by her father, a farmer, in Magsaysay town, Occidental Mindoro province.
“Our place is near the mountain range and the vast ocean at the southern tip of the province,” she said.
“I count as my closest friends the Mangyan children who used to go down from the mountain and play with us,” she said. “I used to go with them, too, to their mountain communities.”
This explained an expression she made during the graduation: “Mangyan at heart, if not by blood.”
Olivares graduated salutatorian in grade school and valedictorian in high school.
She said she was drawn by the “good environment of CLSU” when she joined her mother to visit a relative studying at CLSU in 2013. She enrolled the next semester.
She applied for the Fulbright program last year and was among 250 scholars accepted in a worldwide competition.
Courses she took at the university in Texas were accredited as electives in her course at CLSU.
Olivares also passed the career service exams given by the Civil Service Commission.
She said she planned to pursue a master’s degree in data science.
“There are only a few graduates of this course in our country,” she said.