Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 10 Dec 2019 12am







    Sunday, December 8, 2019-11:59:10P.M.






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NMC’s 32nd ‘Believe’ graduation celebration

NORTHERN Marianas College leadership and faculty, graduates, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos and the community packed the Marianas High school auditorium on Saturday afternoon to proudly confer 120 degrees and 42 high school and GED diplomas.

This reporter opted for a non-traditional route and watched the live Webcast over the internet along with others on the Mainland; and what a wonderful experience it turned out to be.

The theme for this year’s commencement ceremony was “Believe,” and the program did a wonderful job in reinforcing the message.


Retiring instructor Sam McPhetres had the honor of pounding three times the NMC’s wooden staff that began the afternoon.

NMC’s board of regents officially invested Dr. Sharon Hart with the authority of president symbolized by the passing of the college’s wooden staff and presidential medallion.

These two NMC symbols will now be a permanent part of future college graduation ceremonies.

President’s message

Dr. Sharon Hart shared her pride in the college, faculty, board of regents and most poignantly the graduates.

“The most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire,” was one of several uplifting quotes that peppered her remarks.

She encouraged all in attendance to pursue “lifelong learning” and highlighted that America must do more to emphasize education and listed the nation’s 9th ranking in the world as a sign the country must do better to remain competitive.

“Education is absolutely a pathway to a better life,” Hart declared with emphasis.

Furthermore, she pointed-out the economic impact on communities of institutions of higher learning.

“Economists tell us that for every dollar invested in a community college, two dollars are returned on that investment,” Hart stated.

She encouraged those that had enjoyed the accessible and open doors to education ensure that those doors remain open for those that follow.

“Please go out and make everyone in the CNMI proud,” Hart encouraged as she concluded her remarks with a wide smile.

Keynote speaker

The graduating class of 2012 chose Velma C. Deleon Guerrero to address them as their keynote speaker and she exceeded all expectations.

The NMC’s liberal arts coordinator spoke in soft, emotional and yet stirring tones that brought many close to tears.

As Deleon Guerrero was overcome by her own emotion she explained a journey and its relevance to those about to receive their degrees and diplomas.

“On Nov. 6, 1996, I became a widow. At that moment, I was lost, disowned, and alone. I had hit rock bottom and had every excuse to drop out of college, and drop out of life,” she explained.

Pausing for a breath she then looked up and described the choice that lay ahead as the next semester loomed.

“Emotionally drained, I wondered if this Chamorro girl from Tanapag had the will, the strength, or the courage to push on through. Should I continue with the next semester, or take a break? Should I move forward, or take a step back? Should I give in to death, or stand up for my life?”

Even via the internet stream the viewer could feel the intensity in the MHS auditorium and the anticipation as Deleon Guerrero stopped for a moment before answering her own self-probing questions.

“After much thinking and reflecting and praying, I chose the only thing that made sense for me, my girl, and our future. I chose life. I chose to move on and nothing was going to stop me from getting an education,” declared Deleon Guerrero.

She went on to explain the path that led her to attain three NMC degrees including a master’s of education in 2010.

“NMC became my salvation. Through all the emotional, physical, mental, spiritual turmoil, NMC saved me and believed in me and gave me something to believe in: an education, a future, a life worth living.”

Jonathan Kiyoshi, natural resources graduate, stated that Deleon Guerrero’s emotionally charged remarks left a deep impression on him.

“Her speech made me realize that we were celebrating more than academic achievement. That evening, we celebrated academic achievement in the face of adversity.”

Magna cum laude graduate Robert Lawrence Deleon Guerrero was also deeply moved by the speech and humble delivery.

“She knows that the islands are experiencing difficulties socially and economically but said that she’s ‘proud of us graduates’ and told us it’s our time to help revive the islands.”

Robert Deleon Guerrero’s favorite quote from the keynote speech resonated with many graduates in the audience:

“You have the potential for success. My husband said, ‘there’re two kinds of people, those who make excuses in life and those that make a difference,’ and you graduates are those that have made a difference.”

Variety congratulates every one of the now NMC alumni who earned their degree or diploma.

We wish you wonderful luck as you begin a new chapter in your life.