CNMI scholars aiming high

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Million Dollar Scholars.From left, Jessa Camacho, Allison Arellano, Josepha Cabrera and Viron Tenorio at the MYPros fundraising mixer on July 27. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio.

THE first batch of Million Dollar Scholars is not content with just finishing college as its members are aiming to pursue post collegiate courses after finishing their undergraduate studies college two years from now.

This was learned following a brief interview with Josepha Cabrera, Allison Arellano, Jessa Camacho and Viron Tenorio, the first cohort of Gerard Van Gils’ Million Dollar Scholars In the coming school year, the scholars will be in third year, getting closer to their college diploma.
Tenorio said he was debating whether to come back and serve the community for two years and help pay off his SHEFA and CNMI scholarships or continue to study and get a master’s degree.

“I am still thinking whether to keep it going while still in school and then after it is done I will come back,” said Tenorio, who is majoring in criminal justice and digital forensic at Dixie State University.

Arellano is majoring in integrated studies with emphasis in communication and management at Dixie State University.

“I love Saipan and I want to come back. Obviously, all people are getting bachelor’s degree now and all people are coming back on the island.”

She said the competition is getting tight.

“I was thinking if I get my master’s degree, the competition will be better at my end.”

Cabrera, who got a 10-year Gates Millenium scholar in 2016, said she will definitely continue her education and get master’s degree.

“After that, I want to go ahead and continue and get a Ph.D. I got funds for 10 years [from Gates Millennium scholarship] and I would like to take advantage of it and use up all 10 years of it,” said Cabrera, who is double majoring in business with concentration in finance and economics.

Camacho is attending Central Washington University and is majoring in Information Technology with specialization in cyber security and web development design.

“After college, I am not coming back yet. I am planning to take one to two years at Microsoft, probably doing web development and learning more about cyber security and then probably get another year to get my master’s degree and hopefully come back to the island.”

They all admitted they have struggled during their first year in the U.S. mainland but they focused more on getting a bachelor’s degree.

Cabrera said it was really a challenge going to the U.S. for college.

“It was a challenge to adjust to the weather, to adjust to the food. We were all homesick.”

She added the college preparation that the MDS provided to them boosted up her confidence.

“What we did at MDS, we tried to group all of the students by bringing them in cohorts to each university. Being a majority here on the island becoming a minority on the mainland that was a big struggle but overall you get used to it and find your own support group,” Arellano added.

Through the MDS, Tenorio was able to get scholarships and applying for college.

“I really didn’t know how to do all of that. But through MDS, the entire class is doing it and we helped each other prepare for college.”

To the MDS members, who will be going to college, Tenorio advised the students to never give up.

“Don’t let failure discourage you in any form. If you fail a class, continue. Find the course that really interest you.”
Cabrea, Arellano, Camacho and Tenorio are on the island for their summer break.


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