Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 23 Feb 2018 12am







    Thursday, February 22, 2018-1:51:18P.M.






Font Size


9 MHS students invited to join Junior State of America program

NINE Marianas High School students applied for and received an invitation to participate in the Junior State of America, a summer program that helps high school students acquire leadership skills and strengthens their engagement through volunteering and activism.

MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera recently asked Nathaniel Snodgrass, who participated in the program in 2016, to explain to MHS students its importance.

“The JSA experience changed my life,” Snodgrass told the students. “It introduced me to a lot of things — dorm life, college life. It woke me up and encouraged me to become a serious student.”

Snodgrass, who graduated from Mount Carmel School in 2017 and is now attending Northern Marianas College, said everyone he met at JSA was outstanding. “I wanted to be like them. It was a call for me to step up and it changed my life for the better.”

He added, “I used to be a horrible student in the 9th and 10th grade. I had a 2.8 GPA. But by the time I graduated, I managed to bring it up to 3.4 and today I am the recipient of four scholarships on Saipan.”

He said he owes to JSA his academic improvement.

Established in 1934, JSA operates on high school campuses nationwide as an extracurricular activity. During the summer, JSA offers pre-college experience through summer schools and institutes.

Summer schools are hosted on the campuses of Georgetown, Princeton, and Stanford universities. The program offer a rigorous curriculum that includes advanced courses in government, politics, history and public speaking.

This year, the MHS students who received a letter of invitation from JSA are Edwin Kim, Kyle Salvosa, Dai Podziewski, Kelvin Wolf, Cole Chambers, Pionnah Gregorio, Venus Farley, Marielle Sambilay and Julia Malate.

Nathaniel Snodgrass, left, with Marianas High School students  Pionnah Gregorio, Venus Farley, Marielle Sambilay, Edwin Kim, Kyle Salvosa, Dai Podziewski, Kelvin Wolf and Cole Chambers.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

In an interview, Snodgrass said not everyone will get a scholarship from JSA. “From what I know, they only select four from the CNMI to be their scholars.”

MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera said the expenses have to be shouldered by students if they did not get the scholarship. She said the tuition fee alone is about $5,000, plus air fare and dorm fees.

Snodgrass said he participated in the program at Stanford University, adding that his grandparents paid for it. “I would say it was worth it,” he added.

Snodgrass said he is willing to help the MHS students raise funds so they can take part in the program.

One of them, Dai Podziewski, said he has been preparing for JSA since freshman year. “I considered applying in my sophomore year, but I couldn’t get myself together. I really wanted to build my résumé so I could get the scholarship. I waited until this year,” he said.

He applied for JSA at Princeton. “I think it is a great opportunity for us to get into an environment that is intellectually stimulating. You can get in an environment where you can learn more and help you prepare for college. I expected it to be challenging, but I like challenges.”

MHS student Marielle Sambilay said she heard about the program from one of the counselors on campus. “Coming from a small island, it would be nice to see other places and their learning standards.”

Another MHS student, Venus Farley, said she applied because of the opportunity to travel to a top U.S. university

Julia Malate said she applied because she wanted to expand her knowledge about social studies. “I also want to experience classes in a leading U.S. university.”