Presentation of the class of 2026: Selina Manua | UB today

Working for equality in education in Indonesia since sixth grade

Computer and Data Science major Selina Manua (CDS’26) aims to combine her coding skills with her concern for equality in education at BU. Photo by Cydney Scott

Student profile

Working for equality in education in Indonesia since sixth grade

A quick look at the class of 2026, the highest performing and most diverse class in BU history: of the 3,620 incoming freshmen, 19.4% are first-generation students and 21.2 % come from underrepresented groups. They hail from 47 states (excluding Mississippi, West Virginia, and North Dakota) and 65 countries and regions (23% are international students). The class is 59% female, 41% male, and has an average GPA of 3.9%.

But these are just numbers. To give you a better idea of ​​the accomplishment of the class of 2026, we present to you four students who share their inspiring stories.

Many students find that their involvement in activism and their commitment to social justice increases when they arrive at university. For Selina Manua, who grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, it all started in sixth grade.

A family friend shared a story about a one-room school serving slum children under a toll bridge. The school was to be demolished for a public works project, and adults were moving – successfully in the end – to save it. But Manua (CDS’26) asked her mother to take her there, a 30-minute drive from their home, to see the school for herself. When she did, she volunteered to teach math to children, who were only a few years younger than her, on Saturdays.

But she wanted to do more for the school’s 60 students, boys and girls aged 6 to 10.

“I was shocked by the conditions they were in,” Manua says. “There was not [insulation] so it was very hot and there was water dripping from the roof, the children had to sit on the floor all the time, and it was poorly lit.

“I was in schools that had nice facilities, so I decided to help them have better conditions, because we need equality,” she says. “That’s when I started a band called Reading Train.”

Manua’s parents, who encourage her to give back, work in property development. So she lived in a nicer part of town and knew people and businesses that could help her. She took to fundraising, collecting in-kind donations such as furniture, and selling T-shirts. In six months, she raised the equivalent of $10,000, as well as in-kind donations to the school, called Sekolah Anak Kolong Tol Jembatan Tiga.

“There is no official translation for the name of the school, but if it had to be translated, it would be the children’s school under the toll bridge,” says Manua. It sounds sadly Dickensian, but there’s a bit of a happy ending.

The class in the tiny slum, aided by Manua’s Reading Train organization, show off the reading manual they wrote for the class. Photo courtesy of Manua

“We raised enough money to renovate the school and make it a better place for the kids and also to renovate the little building next door so they have, like, a mini library,” she says. “We fixed the roof, we painted the walls, we bought new shelves, desks and chairs, as well as insulation and fans, and we fixed the floor because the tiles were all broken.”

She is still involved in the school and has even written and published a reading manual for students. She continued to teach there on Saturdays, when the students all get a free lunch and are sometimes treated to special events, such as a magician.

But she won’t be there this fall. Manua arrived at BU a few days ago and hopes to continue working for educational equity for women and underserved populations during her stay. She is a Presidential Scholar and joins the inaugural class of data science majors in the new School of Computing and Data Science.

However, Reading Train was not his only prosocial activity at home.

Manua attended the same K-12 school throughout her freshman year of high school, and STEM was a major focus there. “That’s where my interest really blossomed,” she says. “There were a lot of Olympiads and math competitions, and our teachers were really supportive in learning science and doing experiments.”

In her first year, she studied computer code writing and found her (other) calling. “The reason is that coding is more logic-based and there are so many ways to achieve the same result,” she says. “It just depends on how you think and how your logic flows.”

When she changed schools after her first year, she started sheSTEM, an all-girls club, because of what she saw among the poor girls in the slum school and others where she was doing volunteering.

“Because they’re raised in a more traditional setting, they’re designed to think science or STEM is a scary thing for women,” she says. “They haven’t been exposed to the modern thinking that science is for everyone. That’s when I realized we needed more inclusiveness in STEM, especially for women. »

The club, which has around 20 members, organizes events for schools and other non-profit groups, such as an introduction to the history of women Nobel laureates in science and an actual visit to the school in the slum. by a female scientist who conducted an experiment with the kids.

I was in schools that had nice facilities, so I decided to help them have better conditions, because we need equality.

Selina Manua (CDS’26)

“Afterwards, a lot of them said, ‘Oh, that’s so much fun,’ especially hearing the guest talk about what she’s doing as a woman in STEM,” Manua explains. She hopes students “will realize that STEM shouldn’t be for just one gender, but for everyone in the world.”

She firmly believes that a good education is for everybody around the world, and she got to work helping other students. “One of the problems at this school was that the parents were illiterate,” she says. “To me, literacy is everything, you need it for every job in life. And in big cities, people have access to at least some education, but in rural villages, that privilege is taken away. Many places do not even have proper schools due to issues such as scarcity of land and lack of teachers. »

So she started Roda Belajar (in English, Learning Wheels), a project to create a mobile school that can travel to remote villages with a teacher on board, providing an education that would otherwise not be available. She envisions a classroom inside a bus that will travel to two or three cities a day – young children, she notes, have short attention spans – to deliver a few hours of lessons, repeating the route daily. Manua has already designed the bus, she says, and is discussing her idea with the Ministry of Education in hopes of putting it into service next year when she is home for the summer.

She also put her budding programming skills to work for the project.

“We need data to identify the regions that need the mobile school the most,” she says. “I looked at Ministry of Education data on things like student-teacher ratio and found where it was the worst. And I made a route using algorithmic optimization with the data to know where mobile school should go first and where it should end.

She Is have interests outside of STEM and education, including playing tennis and cooking Japanese and Korean food. Her older sister attends the University of Washington, and when asked why she chose BU, she points to the multitude of student organizations she can get involved in.

But the most essential reason why Manua came here has to do with his specialty: the new Center for Computing & Data Sciences, which rises 19 stories above Commonwealth Avenue, is due to open in december.

“The fact that they’ve dedicated a whole new building to computing and data science really sparked my interest, because that’s where my passion lies,” she says. “By constructing this building, they have really shown that they are ready to invest in the field, and that this will be one of their main objectives. Looks like the best building in BU.

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