AS part of its effort to expand access to college education, Northern Marianas College launched a new initiative that helps students with the education costs not covered by federal or local financial aid.
NMC President Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero and the Board of Regents unveiled the program during NMC’s 2nd Research Symposium at Saipan World Resort on Friday.
In an interview, Deleon Guerrero said NMC is “the first in the Pacific and only the second in the nation to launch this initiative.” The first was New Mexico, he added.
The Proa Promise Program aims to provide U.S. citizen students “last-dollar” scholarships. This means the program will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not covered by the Pell Grant, federal financial aid, CNMI Scholarship, Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance, similar local assistance on Tinian and Rota, military educational benefits, and private scholarships.
Deleon Guerrero said the NMC regents came up with the Proa Promise Program when they were working with other college leaders from across the nation on President Biden's free community college initiative.
President Biden's initiative didn't go through, but the NMC regents decided to implement a local initiative.
Deleon Guerrero said a critical component of Proa Promise is "strengthening college wrap-around services to provide students with the academic, social, and technical support needed throughout the course of their college career."
This includes implementing a cohort-based learning system with the incoming freshmen class and providing mentorship to students on the part of their peers and NMC employees, Deleon Guerrero said.
The cohort-based program, which includes counseling and support, will help ensure that students actually graduate on time. "We want to make sure that every student that starts, finishes," Deleon Guerrero added.
Moreover, he said, Proa Promise will streamline current college programs and services to assist students in securing a job after graduation.
This will contribute to CNMI-wide workforce development efforts and create a stable pipeline of NMC graduates for in-demand jobs on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, Deleon Guerrero said.
“When the students graduate, they will have jobs,” he added.
He said NMC is working with the CNMI Department of Labor, with Northern Marianas Technical Institute, the Public School System, other CNMI government agencies and the private sector.
"We already have a template of success," Deleon Guerrero said, referring to the students of NMC’s School of Education.
NMC works closely with PSS to ensure that every education graduate already has a job — and it’s the same thing with nursing students, he added.
"We are going to take all the successes of the program and establish a very close partnership with employers," he said.
“The promise of education can only be realized when we fulfill our promise to education,” Deleon Guerrero added.