HS Students who decided to go to college honored in Saipan

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Million Dollar Scholars and MYPros celebrate and honor 44 students who decided to continue their education in college. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

THE Million Dollar Scholars together with the Marianas Young Professionals early this month honored 44 newly graduate high school students who decided to go to college and continue their education.

Dubbed “Decision Day,” the event was held at the Hyatt Regency and was attended by members of the community, educators and the 44 honorees, who announced where they decided to attend college.

Kagman High School teacher and MDS founder Van Gils explained that May 1 is national college decision day and the deadline for high school senior to decide which college to attend. He added that it is also the first national college decision day in the Commonwealth for Northern Mariana Islands.

“National decision day happens all over the country. A lot of times people celebrated in small scale.”

In Saipan, he said the ‘Decision Day’ was a celebration for 44 students who will go to 14 different colleges and universities.

“We are doubling our numbers this year. In previous years, we had 20 kids from our club going to college. We need a professional workforce – engineers, medical professionals – MDS and MYPros want to build the professional workforce of tomorrow and we have to start right now,” he said.

MDS, according to Van Gils, started seven years ago when one of his students approached him and said she wanted to go to college. He recounted at that time, they were too late for everything – application deadline, scholarship deadlines.

“We missed everything. I committed that the following year, I would come back and help the students ready for college.”

Then, the Million Dollar Scholars was born. The MDS has been helping students to prepare for college.

“We start looking for colleges for students. We decided to package our scholars, put them in cohorts and some of them will go to school together,” he said noting that students who has no support most likely will fail in college.

“That first year, we applied for scholarship as a group. We prepared our students for the entire senior year,” he added.

MDS provides mentoring, social support, and in some cases financial support, according to Van Gils.

“We want to connect the kids to the resources available through different government and non-profit organizations. We help kids with suitcases, passport, whatever they need. But it is really not about specific financial amount it is more about how can we help those students get to college and on to better life,” he said.

During the honoring ceremony, each students went up the stage and announced where they will attend the college.
Eight students, Jeremy Agulto, Christian Arceo, Alyssa Cepeda, Kyle Fabia, Chelsea Isip, Aaron Ogumoro, Enrique Rabauliman and Angel Legaspi, will got to Boise State University.

Five will go to Eastern Oregon University, including Kayjon Boadi, Manny Borja, Justine Kirby, Danielle Pineda, Marian Danga.

Kyle Camacho, Jeffrey Consignado, Mike Fitial, Dustin Palacios, Eugene Villagomez, Marijean Fernandez and Tiava To’omata will go to Dixie State University.

Maureen Cruz, Latisha Deleon Guerrero, Janie Rabauliman and Ryan Francisco will attend the Northern Marianas College.

Aldionne Maglanque, Patrick Santos, Johnson Atalig, Janelle Lavetoria and Isabel Palacios will go to University of Guam.

Bella Semens and Charmel Shrestha will attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Junita Jetley and Frances Santos will go to Western Oregon University.

Rose Ann Bichayda and Kayla John will attend the Washington State University.

Gedin Cabrera will go to Hollins University.

Austin Deleon Guerrero will attend Portland State University.

Tiffany Cayading will go to Kapiolani Community College while Meilleni Ferrer will go to Central Washington University.
Andre Menbrebre and Cherlene Detera are still undecided.

Most of the students said they considered a lot of factors – location, class size and academic majors – in choosing the school.

For Mozina Khan, she told the audience that she decided to go to Adamson University in the Philippines to be with her mother, who has been away from her for years.

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