18 high school students from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) spent the last week on Saipan taking college-level courses in debate and environmental justice at Northern Marianas College (NMC) as part of the Junior State of America’s (JSA) inaugural Civics Institute Micronesia.
Founded in 1934, JSA is the nation’s oldest non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school students acquire leadership skills and the knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants. For decades, the organization has held summer programs in major universities such as Stanford University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, American University, and Pepperdine University.
This year, NMC was selected by JSA to be the host institution for its newest summer program, Civics Institute Micronesia, a week-long residential program on Saipan designed to engage high school students with the most pressing issues facing the Pacific today, challenging them to look beyond differences and focus on solution-oriented action. Participants gain a complete understanding of critical issues directly from the decision-makers who shape public policy and apply lessons learned to generate ideas for direct action in their communities.
In partnership with NMC, the program’s core course is Environmental Justice, which is taught by Erin Derrington, JD, MESc, Lead Planner for the CNMI Office of Planning and Development. The program’s supplementary course is Argumentation and Use of Evidence, which is taught by Dr. Katie Langford, PhD, JD, associate professor at Texas Tech University and a longtime partner of JSA.
The program’s featured speakers include Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature, the Commonwealth Judiciary, and the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.
"For nearly 30 years, the Junior State of America has been entrusted by the Department of the Interior to provide civics education and leadership training to students from the US Territories and Freely Associated States,” JSA Chief Program Officer Andee Steinman said. “Knowing that travel has been, and will continue to be challenging in the post-COVID era, we were inspired to bring our programming to the CNMI. In partnership with NMC, we are thrilled to be able to reach so many students who we have missed so much over the last two years. Accessibility and participation for our students across the globe remains high on JSA's list of priorities."
“JSA has long been a prestigious and effective vehicle to prepare high school students for college while deepening their civic awareness and engagement,” NMC President Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero said. “That is why NMC is honored to partner with JSA to co-sponsor this summer’s inaugural Micronesian Institute. It has been truly inspiring to work with these bright and passionate young minds from across the Pacific in tackling the important issues of our day with academic rigor, vigorous debate, and refreshing authenticity.”
The 18 students selected to attend Civics Institute Micronesia are:
- Alisha Wichep, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Aniken Young Perman, FSM, Xavier High School Micronesia
- Caitlin Jewel Anson Nanpei, FSM, Pohnpei Seventh-Day Adventist School
- Courtney Tervet, Palau, Mindszenty High School
- Dil’Lusech Joan Mary Masami, Palau, Mindszenty High School
- Evelynn Pedrus, FSM, Xavier High School Micronesia
- Francis Mongkeya Laborete, FSM, Kosrae High School
- Gwyneth Michelle Danis, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Hervin Ligohr, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Imrur Sabo Remengesau, Palau, Mindszenty High School
- Isabella Sophia Kostka, FSM, Xavier High School Micronesia
- Jaehoon Son, CNMI, Marianas High School
- Julianne Limtiaco, Guam, Notre Dame High School
- McKleana Bleong Alfred, Guam, Okkodo High School
- Monica Mabel Penias, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Shawn-Michael Edwin, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Silani Andreas, FSM, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School
- Xaeda Dilirang Hokulele Ikertang, Palau, Palau Mission Academy
Civics Institute Micronesia was made possible through a grant from the US Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs.
Evelynn Pedrus, a JSA Civics Institute Micronesia participant from Xavier High School in
the Federated States of Micronesia, introduces herself to her classmates during the first day of classes.
Gwyneth Danis (center), from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in the Federated
States of Micronesia, asks CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres a question while on a visit at the Governor's Office.
Precinct five representative Richard Lizama answers questions from JSA Civics Institute
Micronesia participant Courtney Tervet, a student from Mindszenty High School in Palau.