(I am tempted to write about my grandniece Ananda’s very first day in school but the euphoria of seeing our beloved baby begin her educational sojourn is yet to subside, and I lack coherence when I feel euphoric, so I will do that in another column. For now I will share with you the story of a lad who leads the new batch of freshmen in the region’s finest higher education institution.)
DANE MIKHAEL S. Calica, eldest child of a sea-based Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), topped this year’s College Freshman Admission Test (CFAT) taken by almost 5,000 high school graduates seeking admission to the Mariano Marcos State University. His father Gary, who was in Spain when Calica finished high school, began working as a seafarer in 1992, the same year Calica was born. His mother Marilec is a full-time mom.
A graduate of the Ilocos Norte National High School Special Science Class (INNHS-SHS), Calica scored 156 out of 190 items in the admission exam. He tied with another examinee for the top spot in the Science-Math part with a score of 80 out of 100 items, placed fourth in the analytical component where he correctly answered 26 of 30 questions, but landed only at sixteenth place in English with his 50 of 60 score.
Calica also topped the BS Nursing admission process which, aside from the CFAT, includes assessment of an applicant’s high school general weighted average (GWA) and an interview.
Federico V. Nagtalon, a College of Health Sciences instructor who conducted the admission interview with Calica, said the young man struck him as “very inquisitive and eloquent.”
Bespectacled since 11 because of poor vision caused by too much exposure to computer glare and poorly-illuminated reading, Calica said he chose nursing and physical therapy as his priority courses in view of his dream of becoming a physician in the future. He has even all figured out what type of doctor he wants to become: a neurosurgeon. He hopes to be able to study medicine in Australia where he has relatives.
Calica said he wants to be able to heal people even as he himself is suffering from heart and kidney problems, occasionally experiencing difficulty of breathing and twitching of hands for a couple of years now. He has also been asthmatic since childhood.
Audie G. Coloma, advanced physics teacher at INNHS-SSC, described him as “hardworking and focused in his studies”. The mentor said that even in high school, Calica, who tucks interschool quiz bee championships under his belt, has been devouring piles of college-level books in science and math. Yet Coloma says the young achiever is “very humble,” reciting only in class when no one else among his classmates knows the correct answer to a question.
While Calica’s 95.03 GWA was the highest in their batch at INNHS-SHS, he was beaten by his classmates in points from co-curricular activities. He graduated as first honorable mention, and received medals in science and mathematics.
Calica admits to being a nerd, but adds that he is a “nerd rockista,” given his rocker-inspired fashion sense and taste for music. His hobbies include drawing, painting, playing musical instruments, and singing.
The lad from Laoag City expects college life at MMSU, which he said he chose because of its excellent reputation, to be difficult and challenging, but looks forward to new experiences and fresh opportunities.
He said he wishes to be a positive influence to his brothers Samuel Vincent, 13, and James Noah, 9.
Calica is entering the university as one of highly select awardees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Education for Development Scholarship Program, a grant offered to qualified beneficiaries or dependents of OWWA-member-OFWs who intend to enroll in any baccalaureate course. It is given in the form of a financial assistance amounting to Php30,000 per semester.
Nursing was the first priority course of 28 of the top 100 examinees, the most sought-after program second only to BS Accountancy which was chosen by 41. Other picks of top examinees were BS Secondary Education, 7; BS Civil Engineering, 5; BS Pharmacy, 5; BS Biology, 5; BS Chemical Engineering, 2; BSBA Management Accounting, 2; and BS Sociology, BS Electronics Engineering, BS Mechanical Engineering, BS Computer Engineering, BS Computer Science, BSBA Tourism Management, and BS Elementary Education each with one examinee indicating the courses as first priority.
Three-year-old Ananda began going to school on June 8 while the opening of classes for college students was moved to June 15 as a precautionary measure against a deadly flu. Do you see something irrational here, or is it just me thinking euphorically incoherent?