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Northern Marianas College’s Project PROA (Promotion Retention Opportunities Advancement), in collaboration with 4-H Marianas, provided a safe space for over 110 attendees to talk openly about mental health at its first annual mental health summit called Time to H.E.A.L. “Heal, Empower, Advocate, and Love” last week. 

The event had college students and community presenters from Northern Marianas College, Community Guidance Center, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Trench Tech Purebred Saipan. 

The event's purpose was to educate students on the significance of mental health in college life and adulthood, with a focus on healing, empowerment, advocacy, and love. As a result of the major calamities that have plagued the CNMI over the past several years, there is great need for mental health and academic support for NMC students. Due to the CNMI's economic decline, there is a decline in support for student services, specifically those focused around mental health and academic success.

The program consisted of welcoming remarks from NMC President Galvin Deleon Guerrero, EdD, and Dean of Student Support Services, Charlotte Cepeda, followed by a panel of distinguished individuals–NMC Associate Professor Dr. Beylul Solomon, NMC Assistant Professor Jesse Pangelinan, and CGC Prevention Specialist Fredrick “Fred” Fatialofa. The summit featured panel discussions, breakout sessions, and activities that focused on different aspects of mental health, including the impact of trauma, maintaining mental health, recognizing signs of distress, coping with stress, addressing the effects of cyberbullying, and creating a safe environment for everyone.

"Time to H.E.A.L. was an amazing event, and we are proud of what we were able to accomplish with the help of our entire team and community members and organizations present," Project PROA director Kaelani Demapan said. "We hope that our attendees left feeling empowered, enlightened, and motivated to take care of their mental health and advocate for others."

Project PROA aims to host this event annually and hopes to provide students with the resources and knowledge they need to maintain good mental health and academic success through its Proa Pathway Partnership grant. 

The mission of Proa Pathway Partnership is to improve and expand the capacity of NMC to increase the number and proportion of disadvantaged Asian American and Pacific Islander students residing in the CNMI to successfully graduate from college and enter into meaningful careers. The Proa Pathway Partnership’s goals are to help students identify career paths, attain job skills, and gain research experience that aligns with their educational and career goals in preparation for their transition into a four-year research university; and provide students with direct access to mental health and academic support on campus and virtually. 

Project PROA and the Proa Pathway Partnership are federally-funded programs under the U.S. Department of Education's Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) grants and serves both high school and college students. 

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Amy Soliman, a participant of the Time to H.E.A.L mental health summit, participates in a group activity.



CGC Prevention Specialist Fredrick “Fred” Fatialofa addresses the participants during a panel discussion with NMC Associate Professor Dr. Beylul Solomon, NMC Assistant Professor Jesse Pangelinan, and Project PROA director Kaelani Demapan.