Two COHORT graduations, consisting of men and women who are government employees, received their Master’s degrees from San Diego State University at a ceremony held yesterday morning at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium. Pictured are ASDOE teachers who received their Master of Arts degrees in Education yesterday. [photo: Leua Aiono Frost].

Two COHORT classes consisting of fifty-one men and women graduated side by side yesterday, and the graduates, all government employees, received their Master’s degrees from San Diego State University at a ceremony held at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium.

The Curriculum and Instruction COHORT class is twenty four teachers from the Department of Education, while the Public Administration COHORT class is twenty seven graduates from various government agencies.

The teacher’s theme is “We must be the change we want to see in the world,” while the administration group had as their theme: “Aspiring to Make a Difference.”

Master of Ceremonies for the occasion was Vice Chairman of the Scholarship Board, Fofo Sunia, who noted that this graduation is a historic moment in the Territory because there are two sets of graduates from two COHORTs.

Fofo told the crowd that the Curriculum and Instruction COHORTt was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while the Public Administration COHORTwas funded from the local government by Gov. Togiola Tulafono.

Fofo jokingly said the teacher’s COHORT is the ‘Obama COHORT’ while the administration COHORT is the ‘Togiola COHORT.

In an invocation conducted by Reverend Iasepi Ulu, he told the graduates “I see you are administrators, teachers and government employees and even given the difficulty with the financial and economic crises, you still strived, and I commend you for juggling between work, family obligations and church. Your huge sacrifice will not be taken lightly.”

Rev. Ulu said the graduates have fulfilled their motto of the day, in that “they are the change they want to see in the World”.

Department of Education Director Designee Dr. Jacinta Galea’i, acknowledged the graduates hard work, and reminded the teachers about the importance of the role they serve in the lives of their students in the classrooms.

“That role is to make sure students are given the best education possible so that they can enter college, get a job and be successful leaders of the future,” she said.

To the administration cohort, Dr. Galea’i noted that despite the different agencies they represent, they are in one boat, they all work for the government.  

She also noted the partnership between the San Diego University and the American Samoa government, which provided government employees the opportunity to attain their master’s degree.

Togiola also gave special remarks and said that the two graduating cohorts are a milestone for the 16 years of his tenure, and he’s thankful this occurred while he’s still in office. He acknowledged former Director of Education Dr Claire Tuia Poumele who he said played a part in the planning with the scholarship board to have this partnership with the University of San Diego.

“This is one of the happiest days as my tenure as governor and it’s all for good reasons.” he told the assembled crowd.

“First because you (graduates) have successfully completed and fulfilled your goals to pursue the due diligence over the past two years, secondly today is a combination of the days of prayers by your families, by our government and your country that you be successful in your educational endeavors” said the governor.

Togiola said the two graduating COHORT classes are the product of an excellent partnership that was formed between the government and San Diego State University.  

“I do believe that we have found a model that works, and works excellently to develop not only our teachers work profession but also the workforce in the several professions and abilities that we require and need for the operation of our government.”

He said it’s great to see this many people harvest the investment we made as a people, by putting our money into education instead of buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, machinery, because all these things sooner or later will deteriorate, however the knowledge that you have gained will not, it can only build on other knowledge to build a successful future for our families, our country and our government.

He said the cohort program has been successful for the territory, because more than 500 have attained bachelor’s degrees through this program, and more than 100 have received Masters degrees, and the number will continue to grow.

Togiola noted that police officers are also undergoing a COHORT program for law enforcement at the college, in which they will be graduating soon.

On behalf of San Diego State University, Dr. Theresa Lally thanked the families of the graduates for their endless support.

Mara Leiato Brown and Mariposa Te’o, who both spoke on behalf of the two graduating classes, thanked all the graduates' families and friends and school administrators for their support.

At the end of the ceremony, MC Fofo Sunia noted that gubernatorial candidates Salu Hunkin and Faoa Aitofele Sunia were at the ceremony earlier to applaud the achievements of fellow gubernatorial candidates Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Senator Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who each received their Master’s degree yesterday.

The list of graduates was printed in yesterday’s Samoa News print edition.


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