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NMC’s Ichihara and Hart Receive Top Honors Among Bachelor Degree Candidates (May 20, 2009)

At its graduation this Saturday, the Northern Marianas College will be awarding the Academic Excellence Award to two students graduating with the highest grade point average among all bachelor degree candidates: Angel Hart and Keoni Ichihara.

Both students will be graduating with their bachelor of science in elementary education, and will be working for the Public School System after they graduate.

“We are extremely proud of Keoni and Angel and the hard work, commitment, and the perseverance they have consistently demonstrated in the past few years,” said Cyndi Deleon Guerrero, director of the NMC School of Education.

In a recent interview, both students described their influences, challenges, and also offered some advice to new college students.

“One of the challenges I faced during my studies was being able to support two kids while I finished my degree,” Hart said. “I had a very good support system at work, a caring fiancée, and friends that kept me focused on the end result.”

Ichihara indicated that one of his main sources of inspiration were his family, parents, and friends.

“They have been extremely supportive,” Ichihara said.

Ichihara also added that one the most important lessons he learned through his studies is that “every student and child deserves a chance to succeed.”

Hart, on the other hand, said that one of the most important lessons she has learned while pursuing her degree was that “we never stop learning.”

Asked about her favorite class, Hart said that “all of the classes I took were my favorite because they all brought something to the table that taught me what it is to be an educator.”

Both recommend that students start their college education at the Northern Marianas College.

“I especially recommend NMC to those who cannot afford to go off island to get their degree,” said Hart. “In your classes and your degree program, NMC becomes your family, and on Saipan, family is the most important thing in our lives.”

Ichihara recommends NMC especially for those who are not sure about where to go yet, “because NMC is a good place to start.”

Ichihara also advises students who are just beginning their college studies to “believe in yourself.”

Hart recommends that students “should keep their focus and should not let little setbacks stop them from moving forward.”

“Above all,” Hart added, “have fun."

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