Excellence cuts across geography.

A grade 12 math wizard, choral leader, and badminton player from the Philippine Science High School – Cagayan Valley Campus is now fully enrolled at Duke University, a private research university in Durham, North Carolina.

Edrian Paul Liao, a consistent honor student who hails from the City of Cauayan, Isabela, plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and pursue a certificate in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Computer Science.

As a low income student, studying in the US is a dream I never expected to become a reality.  That’s why everything still feels surreal,” said Liao.

Liao thought only students from Manila get to go to top universities.  He didn’t even think of applying until he heard the news that Hillary Andales of PSHS-Eastern Visayas Campus got into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

According to Liao, the numerous internships that Pisay opened for him gave him the chance to be immersed in STEM careers as early as high school, and Pisay’s rigorous curriculum prepares high school students like him for an advanced tertiary education.

Science was not my strongest suit back then, but thanks to my Pisay education, I was able to love and to learn science.  Because of that, I joined and ranked high in national science competitions like Philippine Science Olympiad (PSO) and the Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO),” Liao said.

In 2019 Liao joined the Sakura Science Exchange Program that gave him the lens to see scientific research at a global perspective.

The Astrophysical Science Center we visited made me realize how big the possibilities are with science, and it led me to aspire to be an aerospace engineer one day,” Liao said.

With high regards to farmers, Liao said, “My father’s a farmer.  All these years I have seen how difficult it is to be a Filipino farmer – typhoons, monsoons, the weather in general, and the low income they get from it.  That is why as an aspiring aerospace engineer, I also want to provide farmers with the microsatellites that could potentially aid in minimizing the harsh effects of these different phenomena.  At least for this issue, I could be able to help and uplift the millions of farmers in the Philippines.

In April 2017, Liao took the Preparatory Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) 8/9 and got 1260/1440, a score in the 99th percentile all over the world.  He also belonged in the Top 1% of all the participants from all over the world in the 2016 American Mathematics Competition (AMC 8) – Honor Roll of Distinction.

My most significant feat so far is to be able to lead π-oneers (read as pioneers), a non-profit organization that I co-founded, consisting of about 350 members all over the Philippines, and to be able to use my knowledge for the common good – that is tutoring high school students, and training them for different local competitions,” explained Liao, when asked about his most significant achievement to date.

According to Liao, he also looks up to educators because first and foremost, teaching as a career is difficult.  It’s like going to school again.

They [teachers] have to study the lessons repeatedly to ensure that students will really understand the lessons.  Imagine the life of having 30 children in a class.  It is really difficult but they still manage to smile and be the role model they want their students to be in the future,” Liao stressed.

Liao would love to work for space agencies and companies like Boeing, SpaceX, and NASA, building spacecraft, satellites, and rovers for a positive common cause.  Someday, he also wants to work for the newly-established Philippine Space Agency, applying what he learned from his education, work, and internship experiences.

Personally, I think that without Pisay, I would not be garnering these wonderful achievements,” Liao said.


(Aries N. Oliveros, Executive Assistant)