Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 15 Jun 2019 12am







    Sunday, June 16, 2019-9:01:20P.M.






Font Size


Chamorro Diaspora Project: Mariah Barcinas

“I BELIEVE that the CNMI does offer good career opportunities…it’s all about working hard to get what you want.”

That’s the opinion of 24-year-old, Rota-raised Mariah Barcinas, who earned her bachelor’s degree in the states before moving back to the CNMI, where she currently works as an intervention specialist at Saipan’s Division of Youth Services.

“Many people I know who move away believe that there is nothing here,” Barcinas told Variety. “I think that is wrong. No matter where we go in life, we need to work hard. If we work hard enough, whether here on Saipan or in California, we can do what we want.”

Barcinas graduated from Rota High School with honors in 2012; she was an active member in numerous clubs and organizations, including AmeriCorps, the National Honor Society of High School Scholars, and Upward Bound. She also participated in the CNMI’s local STEP-UP program, which allowed her to travel to Washington, D.C. two consecutive summers to present at the National Institute of Health.

“I encourage all high school juniors and seniors in the CNMI to look into this program and take advantage of it,” she said. “It was because I was able to visit NIH that helped me make a decision on what to major in during my undergraduate journey.”

In 2012, she moved to Oregon to take advantage of a full-ride scholarship to Concordia University, where she majored in psychology and minored in communications.

“I couldn’t have done it without my parents,” she said. “My mother always told me that it does not matter what school you go to or what you do after graduation. If you work hard enough, you can do everything you set your mind to.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2016, Barcinas planned to remain in Oregon for the foreseeable future.

“I never saw myself moving back home,” she admitted.

But everything changed on Sept. 27, 2017, when Barcinas received word that her mother passed away due to a heart condition. Barcinas had been working towards a master’s degree at the time — she and her sister, Randee-Jo, dropped everything to attend the funeral in Rota.

Upon returning to Oregon, she found that her new home didn’t feel quite right anymore.

“I couldn’t live with the fact that my Dad would be alone,” she said. “I made one of the biggest decisions in my life: to give up the life I was living and to move back home to be closer to my Dad.”

She planned to move to Saipan in July of 2018; she could help her grandmother, who had fallen ill, and still be a quick flight from her father. Unfortunately, her grandmother passed away in May. She returned for the funeral, flew back to Oregon, packed her things, and moved to Saipan in June.

“Even though my grandmother passed away, I was already set on moving to Saipan,” she said. “I may not be on Rota, but I feel content because I am closer to my Dad… we talk to each other every day.”

“My sister is moving here next year,” she added. “And hopefully we can convince my Dad to move here as well.”

“Despite the circumstances, I am glad I decided to move back home. If there is anything I learned from the past year and a half, it is that life is short, but it still goes on, and family means everything to me.”

Now that she’s here, Barcinas said that she has been pleasantly surprised by the career opportunities that the CNMI has had to offer. She hopes to see the CNMI continue to flourish economically.

“I believe that in order to get college graduates to come back and serve our community, we need to give them something to come back to,” she said.

“There’s been a lot of progress since the last time I’ve been here at home…. We’ve definitely come a long way, and I’m sure our leaders are working on improving our economy more so that other college graduates could come back and serve our community.”