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Marianas Variety: NMC Class of 2019: Marianas Strong (July 1, 2019)

OVER 200 graduated from Northern Marianas College which held its 39th commencement exercise at the Koblerville Gym on Saturday.

Fourteen graduated summa cum laude; 28 magna cum laude; and 49 cum laude.

NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico commended the students for persevering despite the destruction brought by Super Typhoon Yutu to their campus.

“Class of 2019, you’ve endured so much to get to this day…when I hear the word ‘resilience,’ I think of you. You are the embodiment and personification of Marianas Strong,” Eliptico said.

Keynote speaker Jerry Tan, chief executive officer of Tan Holdings Corp., told the graduates that they have a significant role to play in bringing “progressive change” to the islands.

He noted that 50 percent of the graduates took business-related courses. He encouraged them to be entrepreneurs.

“We want to see more local business owners and not having to continue relying largely on foreign investors. CNMI is our home and you have the local knowledge. With hard work I am very confident that you will be successful,” he told the graduates.

He also encouraged them to join the CNMI’s workforce. “You all have the potential to contribute to a greater CNMI. With your chosen and respective fields, I truly believe that you will build careers that will further lead to the economic and community development of our islands.”

While he was a student on Guam, Tan said he was involved in the family business and still managed to find time to study and play soccer.

Tan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Guam with a double major in accounting and management. He officially joined Tan Holdings in 1989.

“More than just to run our business, the reason why I stayed here on Saipan is because I feel good about providing jobs and opportunities to the community here. I feel a sense of contentment and satisfaction knowing that our business has allowed people to grow and made their lives better,” he said as he encouraged the graduates to do the same. “The Commonwealth needs you.”

Brianna Concepcion Hunter, summa cum laude, was chosen to speak on behalf of the Class of 2019.

She thanked NMC officials for their dedication and determination to continue the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters despite many challenges. “Because of their commitment and untiring support, we were able to finish this semester on a high note.”

She also thanked instructors for working collaboratively to ensure that their students achieve their learning outcome.

During the graduation ceremony, Eliptico recognized the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying: “Without FEMA, the college would not be able to resume its classes after the storm as quickly as it did.”

He thanked FEMA Deputy Regional Administrator Bill Roche and Director of Field Operations Tracy Haynes for their continued partnership with NMC.


  • Excellence in Service Award: Chelsea Lynn Yangirelfil, Bachelor of Science in Education, Early Childhood Education concentration
  • Governor’s Leadership Award: Kenneth Aquino Gabrido, Bachelor of Science in Business Management

Academic Excellence awardees:

  1. Cindy Florene Takasi Alo, Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice.
  2. Jullianne Faye Cristino Bigueras, Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts: Education Emphasis
  3. Lili Duan, Associate in Arts in Business
  4. Romana Tefania Tudeal Chong, Bachelor of Science in Education: Elementary Education Concentration
  5. Brianna Concepcion Hunter, Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts
  6. Leieschangmwar Rangamar Iguel, Bachelor of Science in Education: Rehabilitation and Human Services Concentration
  7. Sophia Kim, Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts
  8. Denaria-Ali Isau Pangelinan, Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  9. Audrey Pangelinan Skilang, Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration: Accounting and Business Management Emphasis
  10. Marylyn Yumul Tabuena, Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts: Education Emphasis

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