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Marianas Variety: NMC graduates 204 (May 23, 2016)

204 students graduated from Northern Marianas College on Saturday at the Koblerville gym — the largest number in NMC’s 35-year history.

In his keynote address, NMC Director of External Relations Frankie Eliptico encouraged the graduates not to look further for inspiration. “If we look just a little more…closely [among you], you will find an abundance of stories filled with motivation, encouragement and beauty.”

He pointed out the experiences of some members of the graduating class that involved life-threatening situations, domestic violence and other compelling stories of triumph and human endurance.

“You represent inspiration, Class of 2016,” he added.

He noted the many challenges the commonwealth is facing at the moment: the growth of new industries, the strain on resources, and the pressure to produce a workforce ready to take on thousands of jobs.

“I know many of you will be going out into the world to embrace new experiences, furthering your education, and making your mark…, but please come back, because we need you….we need your talent, we need your skill, and most of all, we need your proa spirit,” said Eliptico, referring to the Chamorro voyaging canoe that is also NMC’s symbol.

“You represent the hope and spirit of the Marianas, and looking out at all of you today, I am confident that the future of our commonwealth is in mighty good hands,” he added.

Among the graduates were 59 who completed bachelor of science degrees in education and business management and the over 145 who completed associate of arts, associate of applied science, and associate of science degrees.

Riya Rajkumar Nathrani and Nicole Ichihara Sablan received the 2016 Academic Excellence awards, and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

“The best way we can show our appreciation is to make the most out of the opportunities we’ve been given and go out into the world and make it a better place for the generations that will follow,” Nathrani said.

“Instead of reminiscing about the past few years, we should focus instead on what’s to come in the next few years,” Sablan said. “We must concentrate on enhancing our future and the future of those who will follow us. Let us leave a trail that others will be proud to follow, remember behind you are your memories and before you are all your dreams.”

Riya Rajkumar Nathrani is also this year’s recipient of the 2016 NMC Student Leadership Award which is given to a graduating student who exhibited outstanding leadership skills; is an active, charismatic participant on campus and in the community; and a well-respected role model with the ability to communicate effectively and to work harmoniously with others.

Casey Nishizuki Demapan is this year’s recipient of Excellence in Service Award for exemplifying leadership within the college community and beyond. The recipient “upholds one or more ‘key practices of servant leaders’ which include self-awareness, listening, changing the pyramid, developing your colleagues through coaching not controlling, unleashing the energy and intelligence of others, and foresight.”

David Attao, NMC interim president, cited the results of a survey conducted by the NMC Office of Institutional Effectiveness, indicating that 48 percent of the graduating class will further their education at NMC; 35 percent were working throughout this process and did more than just go to school; 28 percent are looking for jobs; and 8 percent have other plans.

“We all suffered some kind of hardship,” he said. “We all worked hard, you all worked hard, you sacrificed your time, and you found your way. Some of you are the first ever to graduate from college in your family. Despite the challenges and obstacles you never gave up, and your perseverance was very endearing. I’m proud to say that each and every one of you have earned your degrees.”

He added, “Be positive. Every thought we think is creating our future. Take positive actions. Be responsible. If you want something done take responsible actions. Success is when preparation and opportunity meet, but make opportunities happen for you. No one else will but you. If you believe, you can achieve.”

Gov. Ralph Torres, in his remarks, acknowledged the difficulty and hardship of working toward a college degree.

“When you hold your degree, hold it with pride because it is not just for you. You represent your parents, your families, your children. They are prouder for you than you are graduating from college.

“You take that degree and stand tall and represent not just your family but your community. And again I want to congratulate each one of you. Thank your family and friends, because today they also graduated.

This year’s commencement theme was: “Behind you, all the memories; before you, all your dreams.”

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