03 Feb 2013
- By Galvin S. Deleon Guerrero
TO culminate its celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2013, whose theme was “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards,” during this past Friday Family Night’s celebration, Mount Carmel School announced 1999 graduate Christina Marie “Tina” Sablan as the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Graduate Award. What follows is the introduction of Ms. Sablan delivered that night by the writer, the school president.
Each and every year since 1998, Mount Carmel School has recognized one outstanding individual for its Distinguished Graduate Award. Past awardees have included:
1964 AlumKnight, Gov. Benigno Fitial
1966 AlumKnight, Lt. Gov. Eloy Inos
1966 former Lt. Gov. and retired Justice Jesus C. Borja
1968 AlumKnight, Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro
1969 AlumKnight, architect and entrepreneur Efrain F. Camacho
1969 AlumKnight, school leader Rita Kazuma-Guerrero
1977 AlumKnight, Board of Education member and attorney Lucia Blanco-Maratita
1977 AlumKnight, former Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the House of Representatives Diego T. Benavente
1979 AlumKnight, attorney Brien Sers Nicholas
1984 AlumKnight, medical doctor Norma Ada
1986 AlumKnight, school leader Dr. Aflred Ada
1988 AlumKnight, educator Dr. Debra Tudela Cabrera
1990 AlumKnight, educator Dora Borja Miura
1991 AlumKnight, educator Galvin Deleon Guerrero
1997 AlumKnight, educator Elaine Cabrera DelaCruz
As past awardees, these AlumKnights have distinguished themselves as noted leaders in business, government, and the community who represent the school’s trademark values of Faith, Excellence, and Success.
This year’s Distinguished Graduate of the Year is no different, having distinguished herself in more than one way.
Academically, this AlumKnight has distinguished herself as one of the most accomplished scholars of her generation.
A national merit finalist in high school, she graduated from Mount Carmel School in 1999 as class valedictorian, earning both the CNMI’s prestigious 7-32 full honors scholarship and the competitive Robert Byrd Scholarship. She went on to attend DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and the College of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. While in college, she made it onto the Dean’s List virtually every semester and was recognized for numerous accomplishments, including the Presidential Academic Merit Award and inclusion in the 2003 edition of “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” In 2003, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelors of science degree in conservation science.
As intellectually accomplished as she is, she did not confine herself to the walls of academia. Professionally, this 1999 AlumKnight has also distinguished herself as a versatile and dynamic jack of all trades.
While still in college, she worked as a tutor and then a tutor coordinator for students with disabilities as well as low-income, minority, and first-generation college students. She continued this teaching track in 2005 when she taught middle school science at Whispering Palms School.
Applying her college degree to helping her home islands, she also worked for the Division of Environmental Quality as an environmental specialist and then as a water reduction and recycling coordinator. From 2010 through 2012, she applied her skills to a different field, working as the program manager for the Commonwealth Cancer Association. In 2012, she moved on to become an anchor and reporter for KSPN2 News, where she has highlighted critical issues in the CNMI and broken some of the top news of our day.
Indeed, her résumé reflects her versatility and ability to apply herself to a wide range of diverse professions. However, she is much more than just a jack of all trades. She is a public servant who has distinguished herself with her civic accomplishments.
In 2007, she ran a revolutionary grassroots campaign and was elected to the CNMI House of Representatives. In addition to running in that election, she has volunteered as an election observer in Bougainville, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guienea, and here in the CNMI. She also spearheaded a popular initiative to reapply the Open Government Act to the CNMI and facilitated numerous public forums and community meetings to promote dialogue, awareness, and action on a wide range of CNMI issues.
In recognition for all of this civic involvement, in 2007, she was featured in Pacific Magazine’s “25 to Watch” and Guam Business Magazine’s “35 under 35,” and in 2008 was selected by the Saipan Tribune as the Person of the Year.
It is clear that this year’s awardee has distinguished herself in the civic arena. But, more important than distinguishing herself civically, professionally, and academically, this year’s awardee has distinguished herself socially, ethically, and morally as the voice of reason and the conscience of our community.
Long before the tide of politics had shifted in opposition to the status quo, she stood alone against the tide of lies, corruption, and political apathy in her fight for transparency, accountability, and, above all, civic engagement. As she so eloquently put it in her now famous Commonwealth Manifesto, “What we need more than anything right now is for caring, intelligent people to speak up: to stand by their convictions, to voice their discontent openly and honestly, and to take direct action for far-reaching change.”
In many ways, she has been a prophet for our times. And like the prophets of old, she has spoken a truth that we may not have wanted to hear, but we most definitely needed to hear.
We read in Mark 6:4 that a prophet is honored everywhere except in her own home, excerpt in her own community. Tonight, however, we honor this prophet in her home, in her alma mater. We honor her for her accomplishments. We honor her for her integrity. And, above all, we honor her for calling on all of us, for challenging all of us, and for inspiring all of us to raise the standards for what it means to be a citizen and for what it means to be a human being.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am truly humbled to announce and introduce the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Graduate Award for Mount Carmel School, 1999 AlumKnight, Christina Marie Sablan.