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Spotlight Award nominees announced

(Press Release) — The Marianas Young Professionals celebrated Young Professionals Week from June 26 to 30 with their 2nd Anniversary “White Sand Gala,” an event rescheduled for next week, Saturday, July 22.

During this event MYPros will honor and celebrate young professionals in the CNMI with awards in the following categories for Young Professional of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and the Spotlight Award.

Details were announced during Young Professionals Week and the nominees for this year’s Spotlight Award are:

Sheila Babauta

Sheila BabautaSheila Babauta

As a native to Saipan, Sheila Babauta always knew she would return home after college to contribute to her community’s development and growth.

After graduating from Kagman High School a year early, she attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa at the age of 17, focusing her studies in finance and international business. During this time, Sheila volunteered with the hearing-impaired community, tutored math at the local community college, and worked to spread awareness of the drug epidemic as part of the Hawaii Meth Project. She completed two internships with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and UMEE Honolulu, and was inducted to three honor societies: Golden Key International HS, Phi Theta Kappa HS, and Beta Gamma Sigma International HS before graduating with honors in 2011.

Sheila relocated to Seattle to begin a career in financial management with Raymond James Financial Services. While she was there, she continued volunteering at the local food bank and church day care. While there she started her own business, Kaling’s Kitchen, and shared her delicious coconut bread (better known as titiyas) with the locals of the Pacific Northwest. Kaling’s Kitchen participated in events such as the 2015 CNMI Labor Day Tournament, 2015 Seattle FoodBiz, and 2015 Seattle Shorts Film Festival.

After being away from home for nearly a decade, Sheila made the decision to return home in 2016. She is now employed with the CNMI government as the contracting officer’s technical representative under the Capital Improvement Program. In her role, she oversees contractual agreements and grant management for major projects such as the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park, Kalabera Cave Improvement, and the Garapan Water Quality Restoration and Pavement.

True to her nature, she continues to give back to her community. Sheila serves on the board of the Marianas Young Professionals as a director. In this role, she co-planned the MYPros March for H.E.R.S. during Women’s Month and the Backpack Beach Cleanup at Forbidden Island for Environmental Awareness Month. Additionally, she has been an active participant in Zoning Hearings, volunteers for the CNMI Homelessness Coalition Count, and is a member of the Talaabwogh Star Association, supporting their participation in the 2017 Marianas March Against Cancer and CNMI Little League Association.

It has been almost one year since Sheila Babauta has returned home. She enjoys exploring the beautiful island, nourishing her relationships with family and friends, and reading books on self-development. She believes there is still so much more she can contribute to her community and is determined to be a part of the change that will foster a thriving environment for future generations of the CNMI.

Alfreda Camacho

Alfreda CamachoAlfreda Camacho

Alfreda currently serves as part of Gov. Ralph Torres’ cabinet as the special assistant for public transportation since July 6, 2015. She is a recent graduate of the inaugural class of the Pacific Century Fellows-Marianas Chapter in 2014 mentored by former Honolulu Mayor Muliufi Hannemann.

Alfreda recently completed the U.S. Graduate School’s highly competitive Executive Development Leadership Program which is “designed to groom exceptionally qualified and skilled government public servants” in Honolulu, Hawaii in June of 2015. She is a member of the Marianas Young Professionals non-profit organization and currently sits as the vice chairman for the Tsunami Saipan Swim Club. Alfreda attended high school at Grace Christian Academy here on Saipan and attained her degrees in human resource management and business administration with a minor in psychology from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.

In her spare time, one can find Alfreda volunteering for swim meet competitions as an official timekeeper, assisting with community events (5k runs, golf tournaments, etc.), and volunteering her time teaching children English as a Second Language.

Raised by her mother, a Samoan native, and father, a Chamorro native on the island of Saipan and now, mother to an 11-year-old son, Alfreda’s passion hones in on transparent and effective servant leadership alongside public service to help better serve her island community.

Bill Ripple

Bill RippleBill Ripple

After graduating from Mount Carmel High School in 2004, Bill attended the Northern Marianas College and Hawaii Pacific University before receiving his B.S. in civil engineering from San Jose State University in 2009. He subsequently attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and obtained a M.S. in civil engineering (with a geotechnical concentration) in 2011.

During Bill’s undergraduate and graduate school breaks, he returned to the Marianas for internships at several engineering firms. Before he returned home in 2013, he worked at Yogi Kwong Engineers LLC in Honolulu as a geotechnical engineer, the University of Hawai`i at Manoa as a research and teaching assistant, and URS Corporation in San Jose, Ca. as an environmental engineer.

Since his return, Bill acquired his licensure as a professional engineer in the CNMI and California while serving in different capacities. Most recently, he was the chief highway engineer at the CNMI Department of Public Works where he oversaw the Federal Highway Administration program and assisted in the implementation of improvements to the public infrastructure. Bill was also a project manager at Hofschneider Engineering, during which he managed public and private engineering projects.

Last year, Bill started his own engineering firm, Marianas Geotech Services LLC to provide specialized services in geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing to the CNMI in response to the recent boom in the construction industry. Since starting MGS, he has had the opportunity to work on new developments, both in the public and private sectors. In the process, Bill has focused on promoting the training and employment of individuals from the CNMI, and employed three full-time staff supporting MGS’ operations and a summer intern currently pursuing a civil engineering degree. Bill says he’s fortunate to have had the opportunity to encourage high school students, along with other colleagues, to pursue a career in engineering and return to the CNMI to contribute their talents —imperative to the continued growth and sustainability of our Marianas.

Manny Borja

Manny BorjaManny Borja

Manny graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He returned to the CNMI and began work for the Division of Environmental Quality as a regulatory engineer specializing in erosion control and solid waste management. At DEQ, with the Earthmoving and Erosion Control Branch, he worked to improve compliance of construction project storm water management controls by teaching storm water workshops to local engineers and contractors, covering the scientific principles of erosion and sediment control. The end goal of the training was to reduce sedimentation, ultimately protecting our island’s oceans and coral reefs. Manny is currently employed part-time at Hofschneider Engineering Corp. where he uses his environmental background to aid in the design of environmentally responsible infrastructure.

In 2016, Manny started his own company, STEMed CNMI, with the intent of promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and careers to the students of the CNMI. Still in its infancy, the company works with schools and individual students to increase access to AP courses, advanced math tutoring, and SAT prep. Manny is hopeful that his company’s work will open new doors for the youth of the CNMI in technical fields that have been underrepresented in past years.

Outside of work, Manny volunteers with the Marianas March Against Cancer, where he has served as overall chairperson for two years and treasurer for six years. He has been an administrator for CNMI Math Court for seven years, wearing several hats as a test writer, scoring administrator, webmaster, and head coach for Team CNMI, which competes annually in the U.S. mainland.

Manny enjoys dancing and has also volunteered as choreography director with Stellar Marianas for two years, choreographing dance numbers that were performed by the contestants of the Miss Marianas Teen and the Miss Marianas Pageants. He also choreographed a flash mob for DEQ’s “Our Laolao” Social Marketing Campaign, aimed at inspiring communities to keep Laolao Bay litter free on land and sea. Manny can be seen dancing in his car while stopped at red lights throughout the island.

The MYPros 2yr Anniversary “White Sand Gala” is open to all and $40 tickets to next Saturday’s event are still available for purchase from any of their events committee members and you can email them at or visit them on for more information.