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Marianas Variety: NMC allows high school seniors to 'Start Smart' (March 23, 2017)

THE three-day Start Smart seminar sponsored by Northern Marianas College is expected to boost the number of local high school students who choose to enroll at NMC.

Manny Castro, director of enrollment services at NMC, said the main purpose of the annual event is to increase awareness among high school seniors about the benefits of a college education.

“We talked about the admission process, financial aid and how to get money for college. We also brought in people from the community to talk about their college experiences and how they succeeded,” Castro said.

He said they came up with the annual seminar to address a decline in the number of college enrollees.

“This was in 2008. There was a decrease in the number of local students going to college. We wanted to change that. Our mission at NMC is to help our people succeed in life — to help them improve their quality of life.”

In 2009, NMC held the first Start Smart seminar. Castro said the annual event has proven to be a success, adding that 45 to 50 percent of students who participate in the seminar eventually enroll at NMC.

He said the cost of going to college is one of the main reasons many students are discouraged from pursuing higher education.

“So we have to make the students and their parents aware of the resources and opportunities out there that can help them,” he added.

Elvira Mesngon, a counselor at Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School on Rota, said the seminar helps address the financial concerns of their senior students.

“Last year, we saw an increase in the number of Rota students enrolling in college. With the help of NMC’s Start Smart seminar, they learned where to get financial assistance for their education,” she added.

Antenille Santos, a teacher at Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School, said after attending the seminar, her students were more excited, more motivated and more confident about planning for their college education.

Rota student Davita Manglona said she is now more determined to go to college.

“I’ve learned that I have to get out there and make something of myself and bring back what I’ve learned to our community on Rota. I think NMC is a good place to start. I will enroll there,” said Manglona, who plans to major in psychology.

Marianas High School student Isabella Odayat admitted that she had apprehensions about going to college.

“I was nervous about the transition that I would face when I go to college. But the NMC staff told us that it’s normal. Struggle is normal and we must be ready to overcome it,” she said.

Dr. Brady Hammond, NMC Language and Humanities Department chairman, advised the students to ask themselves why they want to go to college.

He said the NMC seminar “is our way of bringing everyone together to show them that college could take you places and allow you to help the community.”

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