Meet Jana Aguilar: A Filipino Girl Living Her Best Life in Boston

“You have to step out of your comfort zone to thrive,” said Jana Aguilar, a Filipino native who is currently a sophomore at Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she was originally on course to study economics. 

What changed? Well, all it took was one introductory coding course during her first semester at BU to prompt her realization of a passion for computer science. While she took the class as an elective, merely to feed her curiosity about the subject, she “fell in love with it,” and was convinced to change her major to computer science. “It’s a whole new world of language, and it’s so logical that it has changed the way I look at the world today,” she said, stating that she was confident in her decision. 

As the first person in her family to study overseas as a college student and also the youngest of four in her close-knit family, her journey to committing to BU — understandably — wasn’t all that easy. After all, her parents’ apprehension is completely justified! I mean, can you imagine living on the other side of the world, away from everything you’ve known? Exactly. 

“It’s such a different environment, such a different culture here — you’re constantly on the move and there’s always something to do,” she said with zest in her voice. 

Yet, in the true fashion of living the American college experience, within a year of uprooting her life halfway across the world, Aguilar has heavily immersed herself in everything her college experience has to offer. From being a part of academic, student-run initiatives such as Girls Who Code for the latter part of her freshman year to on-campus organizations that work for social change, such as the CAS Student Government (she’s president, no biggie!), she’s a part of BU through and through. 

Additionally, as someone who is extremely close with her cultural roots, Aguilar is the co-service chair of District One, an intercollegiate network of Filipino Student Organizations in New England. She is also an active member of Boston University’s Filipino Association (BUFSA).

“BUFSA is my family. They are like my home away from home – they are my biggest supporters, and [they] always make sure to keep me grounded,” said Aguilar. 

Another thing that keeps Aguilar grounded amongst the many stresses of a college student? Music. “No matter what I’m feeling, I always feel like music is my go-to…it is such an important component in my everyday life,” Aguilar said. 

While she is coping extremely well with life halfway across the world from her home and loves her life here, Boston’s harsh winter is definitely not her favorite thing about it! 

“I’m the worst with the cold,” she admits. “I’m inside my apartment wearing two sweaters with two fur blankets, and I still feel cold!” 

Still, that doesn’t stop Jana from exploring the abundant coffee shops in the city. If she’s not in class, she’s guaranteed to be found buried in her books, sipping some English breakfast tea at her favorite cafes in the area. “I can’t study in my room; the bed just calls me,” Aguilar said (I feel you, girl!). Some of her favorites include Café Nero on Newbury, Café Landwer on Beacon street, and the good ole’ student-favorite — Pavement Coffee House on Comm Ave. 

Although she loves the independence and enjoys the fast-paced life in the U.S., Aguilar eventually wants to go back to her home in Manila so that she can help contribute to developing industries and work with local organizations to help her people. 

“I want to do CS at home — that’s the reason I’m studying abroad — so that I can bring it back to where I’m from.” 


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