The CNMI has endured numerous natural disasters over the years, and Northern Marianas College students and graduates are on the front lines helping to expand the resilience of the CNMI community by actively engaging in helping displaced community members secure new homes.
In particular, Crystal Songsong Seidler, a current NMC student, and Joey Duenas Mostales, who graduated from NMC in 2011, currently work under the Federal Emergency Management Agency as crew leads for the Individuals and Household Program (IHP).
In their roles as crew leads, Seidler and Mostales assist community members in securing essential funds for temporary housing, home repairs or replacements, hazard mitigation, and other disaster-related expenses. However, their primary focus lies in FEMA's permanent housing construction program.
Seidler, who is currently pursuing two associate degrees from the College, said that her job as a crew lead is very rewarding.
“The most gratifying aspect of my job is the ability to help disaster survivors get back into their repaired or newly constructed homes,” Seidler said. “It is always emotional but very rewarding to hold a position where I can assist those in need on a daily basis.”
Seidler attributes her success in managing the program due to the knowledge she continues to gain from NMC. As a full-time employee, a mother of three, and a student, she encourages other parents who are looking to develop their education to start at the College.
“There is an array of degree programs and certificates that you can obtain to further advance your career,” Seidler said. “It is never too late to complete your college education and be an inspiration to your children.”
“Also – follow your passion, whether it is helping people in the healthcare industry, or in the education field,” Seidler added. “It is always great to contribute and give back to our community. Lastly, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.”
Mostales, who earned both his associate's and bachelor's degrees from NMC, said that his time at the College helped him with his current role at FEMA.
"As an NMC alumni, my journey with FEMA has allowed me to give back to the community that nurtured me,” Mostales said. “The most rewarding aspects of my job include assisting others during challenging times, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and honing the skills I acquired during my time at NMC, which have been invaluable in my career."
Mostales, who is also a military veteran, encourages members of the community to pursue higher education if they haven’t done so already.
“Attending college is the key to success,” Mostales said. “I pursued my college education to set a good example for my oldest son, who also pursued his degree and ultimately became a doctor. With pursuing higher education, especially at NMC, you’ll be able to gain the experience you need and discover your passion.”
For more information about the College’s degree programs, visit www.marianas.edu.