English professor finds protégé

She was selected as one of the 100 most influential Filipina women in the United States, and now she has finished her search for a protégé.

M. Evelina Galang, an assistant professor in the English department, was looking for a student to mentor for the next five years. Ninety-nine other influential Filipina women joined her search with the goal of doubling the 100 voices of Filipina leadership by the Filipina Summit in 2012.

Rhea Olegario, a freshman studying biochemistry, was chosen as a protégé based on an interview process and an essay contest. She will be in charge of coordinating an initial US chapter for Friends of the Lolas, an advocacy program Galang created, comprising student leaders in different organizations at the University of Miami.

Under Galang’s mentorship, she will lead projects to raise awareness, fundraise and connect with the Liga Ng Mga Lolang Pilipina, or the League of Filipina Lolas, through letter writing.

Before her search for a protégé began, Galang was recognized for her extensive research, advocacy and activism for the 200,000 WWII rape victims known as Lolas or “comfort women.” Last year, during Amnesty International’s Die In, Galang and a group of student volunteers read the testimonies of the Lolas and got signatures for her petition to pass US House Resolution 121, a call for Japan to apologize for forcing thousands of women into sexual servitude to its soldiers before and during WWII. Congress passed it July 30. Galang now wants to spread the awareness off campus into the Miami community with the help of Olegario.

“I look forward to gaining the skills of managing an advocacy organization because in the future I want to be involved in human rights,” Olegario said. “I know there’s a lot I need to learn especially because I’m a freshman in college, but I know with Evelina’s guidance I’ll be going down the right path.”

To read Olegario’s winning essay, visit www.TheMiamiHurricane.com.

Analisa Harangozo may be contacted at a.harangozo@umiami.edu.