Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Have you seen a group of 50,000 people? You can imagine Minute Maid Park in Houston during the last World Series. It has a capacity of 41,168 and a little more than that is fifty thousand.
Keep that picture in mind because that is how much our Filipino pride trampled to gain the top spot of Craig and Galen Brown full ride scholarship for Texas A&M. A perfect example of Filipino strength in conquering obstacles to stand out in crowd. The one out of many.
What is the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation Scholarship Program?
Since 1992, the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation (“Brown Foundation”) has partnered with Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Foundation, providing more than 400 four-year scholarships to high achieving, well-rounded high school students who were recognized as National Merit semifinalists and majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or business. Part of eligibility requirements were; Score at least a 1400 SAT (with at least a 620 in evidence- based writing and at least a 660 in math) or a 32 composite ACT score (at least a 27 in both English & Math) (source: https://scholarships.tamu.edu/Scholarship-Programs/The-Craig-and-Galen-Brown-Foundation)
We were able to sit down with Jerard Bajar during his holiday break and ask him few questions to know more about him and his plans in the future:
PABT: Can you describe your childhood?
JERARD BAJAR: “When I was young, I remember when I was gifted a Gameboy Advance from my dad. It was a simple machine with only a handful of buttons, but I was hooked. Games like Pokemon Fire Red had a strangely entrancing feel to them. I remember staying up at night, huddled in a blanket and having to rush to save before it was time to go to bed. I am motivated with simple challenges, determined to succeed, and conquer what I conquered yesterday. These video games were a large part of my childhood, and even to this day I still come back to certain titles whenever I have free-time.
In school I’ve struggled with language or social studies topics, but never gave up. I continue to immerse myself with Spanish language to continue to improve and I listen to current events through podcasts. In contrast, people around me marvels my proficiency in math and science. I continue to compete and challenge myself through academic competition through Private Schools Interscholastic Association and through Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. To date, I am fascinated to see how numbers relate to each other and how you can exploit these relationships to learn quick ways to solve numerous problems.
I may not be the smartest in a group, but I work twice as hard as anybody else. My love for technology and, my determination to succeed has led me to pursue a career path in engineering. With engineering I hope to be able to develop new technology that can even the disparities between different social classes as some communities lack electricity and access to the internet. My drive to accomplish this comes from my experiences across the world. My family usually takes an annual trip to the Philippines to visit family members and to other countries as part of vacation, but this has also showed me the harsh reality in other areas of the world. I was able to observe the lives of those less fortunate than me, and the future I would like to give back to communities like these and provide them with a higher quality of life.”
PABT: What are your personal goals and dreams in the future? JERARD Bajar: “I wish to pursue the career path of becoming an engineer. My primary goal is to get into a university that has a prodigious engineering program, and I want to make use of every opportunity that comes my way. Currently, I am not sure about which field of engineering I want to go into, and I want to narrow down my choices.
I want to be in an environment with others who share the same interests as me. I believe in the strength of diversity. Immersing myself with other people with different background but same interest in engineering will be a tremendous accomplishment for me. Growing up, I learned that I need to learn how to collaborate and work with others. I learned that hard work pays off and I learned to do my best in everything I do mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially.
Lastly, I want to learn more about STEM. I have been reading and learning about different aspects of STEM. Different articles and podcasts describe that the future of human race is in STEM. Being a graduating senior student who is preparing for his future, I still need help and guidance. Learning and exposing myself to STEM through my chosen university is a lifetime opportunity that not many will get to experience.”
PABT: If you could invent an engineering solution that makes a local impact in your community, what would it be and why? JERARD BAJAR: “ Steve Jobs is an individual who has greatly bettered humanity through the technological innovations Apple has made. He is an inspiration to many people including myself. The development of smartphone technology has allowed people around the world to better communicate with each other, which in turn allows for ideas and beliefs to be spread more easily. His inventions have been spread worldwide and given humanity a technology that is used in everyday life and makes the modern culture what it is. However, misuse of technology has negative implications too.
If I have all the resources and without any limitation, I dreamt of a community where I can address the negative effect of social media to young adults. In my community, I continue to witness the negative effect of technology in the development of self-esteem. I also personally experience a friend of mine who is depressed. He stopped attending school. I wanted to invent a technology that can significantly decrease depression, and a technology that can promote positive human relationship. Possibly an application where teenagers do not need to compete for who has the most beautiful face or sexiest body, or who has the latest gadgets. It is an app where users celebrate successes of each other. A smart app with sort of artificial intelligence built into it. It helps users in promoting positive values and kindness to each other. The app will monitor user posting regarding the negative effect versus the positive affect it can do to people that will read or glance at it. It is like an artificial “good moral character” app. I am certain that cell phone will not go anywhere. Cell phone technology is here to stay. The diligent and responsible utilization of this technology warrants promotion. I know that “AI good moral character app” can minimize cyber bullying, can indirectly decrease jealousy to others, can indirectly improve relationship amongst people and definitely improve depression rate among teens. This will help not my just community but the entire human kind.”
PABT: How do you view yourself? Your attitude, personality, and experiences that made positive impact to your current self.
JERARD BAJAR: “In the summers of 2016 and 2018, I attended Lamar Introduction to Engineering. It is a program that allows students to experience some of the daily work of various fields of engineering. LITE would be a day camp over the weekend where we would participate in various experiments, visit with the faculty and staff, and learn about the benefits of a career in engineering. I enjoyed that experienced. The next year, 2018, I attended another engineering camp at LAMAR oriented toward high school students, LITE Seniors. It had a similar format but was more informative and in-depth than the one oriented for middles schoolers. We were able to program a robot, learn about oil extraction, and take part in other experiments. I can share the experiences and able to collaborate with other students to further my learning.
With my Filipino heritage and my love of traveling, I opened my eyes by learning different cultural values and beliefs. I never had to struggle to get what I needed and have been blessed with many opportunities. The only truly unfortunate event that happened to me occurred recently. After the Spring Break of 2018, I discovered that my vision in my right eye was very distorted. I thought nothing of it since I’ve had poor eyesight ever since the first grade, but when looking out of only my right eye, I found that the left half of my normal field of view had gone black. My family then scheduled an eye appointment and received the news that my retina had detached in my right eye. Luckily, the operation to repair it had gone well, but I still struggle with the aftereffects. When I was diagnosed I tried not to dwell on it too much. I just thought “So what?” and moved on. Through this ordeal, I’ve been taught to stay positive and that if you don’t let struggles weigh you down, everything will ultimately be fine. I owe it to my parents for teaching me the value of gratitude and positivity.”
PABT: Can you tell us about your educational background? Your strengths, weaknesses, and any special needs?
JERARD BAJAR: “Ever since I reached first grade, the importance of academics has always been stressed in my household. I remember how my parents would always push me to do my best academically, and so it became my nature to push myself and perform more than what is expected of me. I’ve always worked my hardest and made a personal goal of achieving grades above 95. Even though I consider myself relatively intelligent, I have learned that not everything comes easily as in high school, classes like Spanish and American History have been challenging. I have to work extra hours, seek outside help, and be creative in learning difficult subjects.
The importance of academic excellence has also been instilled in other Asian families as I continuously find myself surrounded by other excellent Asian students in my neighborhood. Back in junior high, I valued my position as smartest and ranked at the top of my class. Once I was no longer the first in the grade, I learned that there are always people as good as or even better than you. I learned that I need to work harder than these people who are more naturally gifted. I learned to do my best in everything I do and that I do not need to focus on competition with anybody else. Through these experiences, I learned to strive to become a better version of my past self mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially.
Growing up in a small town let me easily get emotionally attached to those around me. Because of this, I value my experiences in the school band more than those in any other club or organization. Before high school, I was a member of the middle school band. This gave me an immediate peer group I was already comfortable with. I will always have fond memories from our half time performances, Friday night football games, our bus rides to competitions, and the moments when I could just be myself. I do not consider myself a social person, and don’t warm up to new people easily, so I invest a lot into the few connections I do make. Being in the band has given me an easy way to connect with people over the last 6 years, and I truly appreciate all the relationships that have come from it."
We thanked Jerard for sharing his thoughts and aspirations to us. May he set an example to younger Filipinos in our PABT community.
For those of you who wants to dig further on his high school accomplishments, here it is:
HOBY Leadership Conference Participant
*Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) is an organization dedicated to training and nurturing the young leaders of tomorrow. Its mission is to provide lifelong leadership development opportunities that empower youth to achieve their highest potential and gain knowledge of leadership skills.
LITE Senior – LAMAR Introduction To Engineering Senior
* Camp that introduces Students to the various fields of engineering. Had the opportunity to visit various engineering laboratories and conduct fun experiments during this free program.
Monsignor Kelly Catholic Highschool (MKCHS)
*Current Cumulative GPA of 4.53
*SAT Super Score Math = 770; Reading and Writing = 760.
*SAT Oct 2018=1510. PSAT Oct 2018 = 1490
*Consistent Honor Roll Student
*Participated and Won Math State Competition, Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), 5th place Number sense
*National Honor Society member for highly academic students
*Mu Alpha Theta member for high ranking academic students
*Spanish Club member
*Key Club member
*PRESIDENT, Student Council
*Family hosted a Junior German high school student to live with the Bajar Family; SY2014-2015
*Spent traveling and visiting other cities and countries around the world to learn different culture during summer vacation and thanksgiving week.
Visited Philippines, Canada (Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, Montreal), Japan (Tokyo), Portugal (Lisbon, Fatima, Sintra, Porto), Singapore, Spain (Santiago), Dominican Republic (Punta Cana), Mexico (Cancun, Playacar), Costa Rica,
Hungary (Budapest), Czeck Republic (Prague). Austria (Vienna), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Hong Kong, and Cambodia.
*Traveled to different major cities in America during school break and long weekends.
Visited New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Seattle, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Orleans, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Washington, Philadelphia, Maine, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Key Largo, Miami, and Boston.