Gov. Togiola will keynote ASCC Commencement

Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono, seen here with ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le'i, has traditionally joined the College for its graduation ceremonies, but the commencement on Friday, May 18, will mark the first occasion where he will also give the keynote speech. At the forthcoming ceremony, the College will award its very first Bachelor of Elementary Eduation degrees to two students in the Teacher Education Department. [Photo: J. Kneubuhl]

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will hold its 56th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 18, beginning at 10 a.m. in the College’s Gymnasium.

One hundred and thirty prospective graduates are expected to receive the College’s regular Associate degrees and certificates, although the actual number may vary depending on final exam results, and this semester’s graduation ceremony will mark a milestone for ASCC with the awarding of its very first Bachelor of Elementary Education degrees to two students from the Teacher Education Department.

The ASCC Student Services Division, who organizes the graduation ceremonies, has confirmed that Hon. Gov. Togiola T. A. Tulafono will give the keynote speech at the ceremony. During his tenure in office, the Governor has generously participated regularly in ASCC graduations, but this will be his first occasion as keynote speaker.

“We feel especially honored that the Governor will join us for the first presentation of our Bachelor of Elementary Education degrees, as he has always supported the College’s move towards this goal,” said Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle.

In addition, to the Governor’s keynote speech, another highlight of the forthcoming commencement will be the awarding of the College’s first-ever Bachelor of Elementary Education degrees to students Selutoga Fuiava and Tasia Talamoni.

The Teacher Education Department offers the first four-year program at ASCC, and given the Governor’s longstanding support for the College establishing such a program, his presence at the awarding of these first Bachelor degrees makes the occasion all the more historic. 


Born in 1947 on Aunu’u, Togiola attended elementary schools in Vatia, the Marist Brothers’ School in Atu’u, and graduated from the High School of American Samoa- Samoana in 1966. After high school, he attended the Honolulu Police Academy, graduated in 1967, and served for a year back home as a police officer. Togiola next attended Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska as an American Samoa Government Academic Scholar, and received the Chadron State Special Talents Scholarship Award in 1969. In 1970, Chadron awarded him a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology. After graduating from Chadron, he became a Legal Assistant in the American Samoa Attorney General’s Office, and served as Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of Samoan Affairs from 1970 to 1972. He attended Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas from 1972 to 1975, receiving his Doctor of Laws degree in 1975. He was admitted to the Kansas Supreme Court and the High Court of American Samoa in 1975.

From 1975 to 1977, Togiola was a partner in an American Samoan law firm and also served as Vice President of South Pacific Island Airways from 1976 until 1978. In 1978, he was appointed as a District Court Judge, serving in that capacity until 1980, when he was elected as a Senator from Sa’ole County (1980-1984) and then from Sua County (1989-1996). In the Legislature, he chaired many committees, including Ways and Means, Judiciary, Senate Rules, Senate Select Investigation Committee, and Transportation, Communications, and Wildlife and Natural Resources. From 1975 to the present, he has been a member of bar associations in Kansas and American Samoa, and was a member of the American Bar Association from 1975 to 1980. From 1979 to 1983, he served as chairman of the inaugural Board of Directors of the American Samoa Power Authority.

From 1993 to 1996, he served as chairman of the inaugural Board of Higher Education.

He has been listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the West and Outstanding Young Men of America. He has been a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the Pago Pago Rotary Club, and was elected as Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa alongside Governor Tauese Sunia in 1996 and 2000. Following Governor Sunia’s untimely passing, Togiola was sworn in as Governor on April 7, 2003, and re-elected for a second term on November 18, 2008. While Governor, he was also elected as Vice Chairman of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa during the 2003 CCCAS Assembly, and served as Chairman for the 2004 CCCAS Assembly. In July 2006, he was voted Vice Chairman of the CCCAS. On July 12, 2008 he was voted again as Chairman for the 2008 CCCAS Assembly and served until 2010.

Additionally, Togiola is the District President for the American Samoa District, Boy Scouts of America, and a member of the Lions Club of Pago Pago.


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