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Marianas Variety: NMC graduates 208 (May 22, 2017)

NORTHERN Marianas College in its 36th year set a new record, graduating 208 on Saturday at the Koblerville gym.

“This is the largest number of graduates so far,” NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez said in an interview. “Next year, we will break the record again. Hopefully, we will have 250 graduates.”

This year’s graduation theme was, “In the waves of change, we find our true direction.”

In his keynote address, CNMI Teacher of the Year and Kagman High School teacher Gerard van Gils told the graduates to welcome changes.

“Out there, beyond the shore, past the reef, we find challenges and difficulties. Here, there is comfort, peace, tranquility. Out there, storms without names rage, dangers not visible from the shore lurk. To exchange a place of comfort for a place of challenge seems to be a poor gamble, but discovery of ourselves, our purpose, is found in that challenge.”

He said the CNMI has problems.

“Some of these problems are coming from outside influences. These include military interests which would use our islands for target practice, or it may be foreign businesses who don’t want to play by the rules or respect our culture. But some of our problems are grown here at home. We have health problems with too few medical professionals, we have too few engineers to build our infrastructure, and we are underperforming in education. Whether our problems are from without or within, the solution is the same. You are the solution, armed with your education, you stand ready to serve and improve our islands.”

He added, “Education is the surest exit from poverty. Education can solve the problems that our islands are facing. We’ve been waiting for your graduation. Today you should rightly celebrate, but tomorrow we have work to do.”

As for those graduating with degrees in education, he said the Public School System is hiring.

“Being a teacher is a great and noble profession. I congratulate you on completing your education. In August I will be back in my classroom, once again scraping gum off of desks. I can’t wait to welcome you as my peers to the greatest job in the world.”

The top graduates were Romana Tefania Tudela Chong, Leon Liang Lizama II, Wei Wei and Jaibao Xu who all received the 2017 Academic Excellence Award for graduating summa cum laude.

“Education is only significant when the individual is able to apply his academic knowledge to the real world,” Jaibao Xu said. “Today, more than 200 outstanding college graduates gather here, and will head to different places in pursuit of the next academic and career goals tomorrow. I hope we can fully utilize our collegiate skills and knowledge to solve the problems we will encounter in the foreseeable future. Isaac Newton once said, ‘My powers are ordinary. Only my application brings me success.’ Putting ideas and thoughts to use is what we must do today in order to thrive as educated individuals. Let’s remember the true value of a college education. Let’s take the next step together.”

For their part, Romana Chong, Leon Lizama and Wei Wei thanked their family members, friends and instructors at NMC for playing important roles in education.

In his congratulatory remarks, Gov. Ralph Torres also recognized the parents and grandparents of the graduates for their unwavering support.

He told the graduates: “Each one of you can make a difference wherever you are — whether it is in the workforce, in your family or being with your friends. You can make a difference. So I ask all of you as you walk down and hold your degree to hold it with pride and make a difference. Help one another. Our community is small. When you help it goes a long way.”

In her remarks, NMC President Carmen Fernandez said: “Graduates, today you will all embark on a rewarding and exceptionally important journey. I am confident that you will be the engine that drives the commonwealth’s economic growth.”

She also reminded them of a quotation attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you want to see in this world.”

“Graduates,” she added, “we are looking forward to see the great and wonderful changes that you will be making in this world. “

Former MV Teen reporter Lorielyn Monica Duenas Lacay received the Student Leadership Award for exhibiting outstanding leadership skills in college and in the community while the Excellence in Service Award went to Allison Lyn Estacio Madamba.

In a press statement, Fernandez said NMC continues to play an increasingly integral role in educating and training local residents.

“We are very proud of all our graduates who will be joining thousands of other NMC alumni who are business executives, government leaders, community advocates, and other professionals who are making a positive difference,” she added.

The NMC Class of 2017 included the following groups of degree recipients:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, 17 students
  • Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management, 10
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration (Accounting Emphasis), 15
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration (Business Management Emphasis), 10
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration (Computer Applications Emphasis), 13
  • Associate of Arts in Business, 11
  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, 40
  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts (Education Emphasis), 19
  • Associate of Science in Natural Resource Management, 18
  • Associate of Science in Nursing, 18
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Management, 12
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Management (Accounting Concentration), 2
  • Bachelor of Science in Education (Early Childhood Education Concentration), 6
  • Bachelor of Science in Education: (Elementary Education Concentration), 10
  • Bachelor of Science in Education (Rehabilitation and Human Services Concentration), 5
  • Bachelor of Science in Education (Special Education Concentration), 2


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