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Saipan Tribune: In NMC Keynote Address Eliptico speaks of triumph, endurance (May 24, 2016)

In a moving keynote address, Frankie M. Eliptico, Northern Marianas College External Relations director, urged the graduates of NMC’s largest class to look among their peers for inspiration during the commencement exercise at Koberlville gymnasium last Saturday.

Shifting attention to the students, Eliptico told the story of Angel Ray Guerrero, one of the graduates who is a cancer survivor. Guerrero, he said, was medically referred to Honolulu where he subsequently spent a year and a half undergoing six surgeries, including a major operation on his brain to remove a tumor the size of golf ball.

“Fighting with every ounce of courage and strength he could muster, Angel endured 32 days of aggressive radiation and more than a year of chemotherapy,” he added. “He is the brave cancer survivor who beat all the odds and is here, standing proud with the Class of 2016 and who is now ready to receive his college degree!”

Eliptico also spoke of another graduate, Malyssa Castro. Castro, he explained, endured over nine years of domestic violence and has shared her message as an advocate for victims.

“After enduring so much hurt, she was able to manage and gather the strength and courage to pick up her three children—a 3-year-old and twins who were only nine months old—and leave an abusive relationship once and for all,” Eliptico explained. “She said that during this difficult period, NMC was her refuge, that it was one of the few things that was stable in her life.”

“Today, Malyssa proudly marched down that graduation aisle to claim the degree she has worked so hard for!”

The class, he added, should also be proud of graduate Jasyleen Arriola.Arriola discovered she had a tumor in her leg that broke down the bones near her knee. Her doctors said she would never be able to walk again.

The audience roared in applause as Arriola stood up after being recognized by the keynote speaker.

“Each one of you has a compelling story to tell,” he added.

He said that the students conducted themselves well, despite having to do homework in the dark and using public Wi-Fi at local businesses for months.

He also noted that all of the graduates survived the wrath of Typhoon Soudelor. He said, “You are the class that not only lived through a super typhoon that was later categorized as the most powerful storm on earth, but You also lived through months of darkness as you waited to have your power turned back on.”

Eliptico explains that he initially declined the offer to be the keynote speaker, but decided to take on the role after his sister passed away a month ago.

“[It] still haunts me today, is I never really said goodbye,” he said. “And I mention this not to bring your spirit down on this festive occasion, but to share with you what I learned from her death.”

Eliptico recounted his sister’s enduring spirit, even in times of illness, she remained his biggest fan. He said he does not know if his sister new how much of a hero she was to him.

“I never got to tell her that. I never got to tell her that that every single day of my life I strived to be half the person she is,” he added.

He urged the graduates to genuinely express their love to their family members in person, not just on social media, and have real meaningful conversations with others.

Eliptico called on the graduates to return to the island after pursuing new experiences and furthering their education elsewhere, especially during a time that he said industries are growing, resources are being strained, and the pressure to produce a stable workforce is rising.

He added, “You represent the hope and the 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.”

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