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Marianas Variety: NMC tells government employees to 'climb higher' (January 4, 2017)

NORTHERN Marianas College, in partnership with the Civil Service Commission-Office of the Personnel Management, conducted the 2017 Climb Higher Seminar at the Saipan World Resort on Tuesday for CNMI government employees.

“We want to give them the tools to sign up [for college],” said NMC President Carmen Fernandez, adding that they want to see more people from the commonwealth with college degrees.

“It is not only beneficial to the families, but it is beneficial in the workplace and really beneficial to the CNMI as a whole.

“Certainly this is an important program for us. We are here to provide all of the tools and support needed to make everyone successful.”

She said NMC can make accommodations for employed students.

“We will be designing schedules based on the schedules of working people so we can offer courses after 5 p.m., for example, and we can also offer courses on Saturdays.

“We will come up with various schedule formats to help them get their degrees.”

The seminar on Tuesday dealt with, among other things, the Credit for Prior Learning Program through which college credit is awarded for knowledge gained through training, employment and life-experience as self-assessed and documented in a portfolio.

The program is ideal for adult students who wish to complete a degree while continuing their careers, NMC said.

One of the speakers, NMC Dean of Student Services Leo Pangelinan, spoke about the value of a college education in today’s competitive environment and the benefits of earning a degree given current workforce issues.

Participating government employees interviewed by Variety expressed interest in the programs offered by NMC.

Lushan Reyes, a Customs inspector officer II at the seaport, said higher education will allow him to apply for higher positions.

Right now, however, Reyes said family obligations and his work schedule are “holding him back.”

Police Officer 1 Edwin Camacho said the NMC programs will benefit him and other government employees if they want to get a college degree.

But like Reyes, Camacho said family obligations and responsibilities are his priorities at the moment.

“It will be a great help for me if [NMC] can accommodate our working schedules. It would be a great help for me and my family as well. I want to get my AA and then a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice,” he added.

On Dec. 27, 2016, Gov. Ralph Torres sent a memorandum to all department and activity heads regarding the new scholarship opportunities for government employees and NMC’s Prior Learning Assessment Program.

Torres said as part of his administration’s ongoing efforts to build workforce capacity, he signed Senate Bill 19-81 into law to expand CNMI Scholarship Office programs.

The bill, which is now Public Law 19-65, authorizes the CNMI Scholarship Office to provide scholarship funds to full-time government employees who wish to enroll at NMC on a part-time basis.

Torres said he believes that a college education opens the door to professional opportunity and advancement.

“I would like to encourage all government employees to take advantage of this funding availability and to pursue a college degree,” he added.

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