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JSA rep encourages students to apply

Are you a high school student seeking an unusual and challenging educational experience?  The JSA (Junior State of America) program may be exactly what you are looking for, and they have sent Ed Banayat as their representative to find those students in the insular areas who want to expand their understanding of the political workings of our nation, and grow in leadership skills.


In addition, they will realize the benefits of traveling as an education in itself; it brings students an appreciation for their own culture, as well as respect for the culture and customs of others, while engaging in dynamic dialogue and debate surrounding the national conversation.


Formerly called the Junior Statesman program, JSA  is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and Banayat serves as the Territories Program Director for the U.S. insular areas.


He is currently in the Territory, giving out information on the JSA Summer program, along with info and applications for Department of Interior scholarships for high school students. According to Banayat, any high school student, from freshman to ‘rising senior’ is eligible to apply. (Rising seniors are those seniors who are just entering their senior year.)


Seniors about to graduate are eligible for a separate and distinctly unusual program, the Scholar’s Program, which sends students to Beijing, China following their graduation, as part of a cultural exchange program. American Samoa participated the first year the Scholar’s Program was in place, and Mr. Banayat hopes that this will happen again.


Students who are residents of the Territory are eligible for scholarships, and one of the requirements is that they were born here, on island, according to the rep.


(Without a scholarship, the program runs $4850 which includes room, board, instruction time and books, but not airfare.) Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships, and Banayat is looking forward to many applications.


He told Samoa News, “The spirit of the scholarship is to foster leadership in young people and encourage them to return to their communities and serve in various capacities. It’s not limited to one area of service—any public service is encouraged by this program and these scholarships.” 


 “The Territory—including the Governor’s office and the DOE leadership— is very supportive of the JSA program, and has been for many years,” Banayat added.


According to Tapu McMullin, executive assistant at the local DOI office, “last year’s program was wonderful because Gov. Lolo had set aside money to offer full and partial tuition scholarships for our students.”  Four students received full tuition and airfare through JSA and DOI and an additional fifteen students were able to attend the Summer program. Through the Governor’s generosity, students attended Stanford, Princeton, and Georgetown, and three students attended the University of Beijing.


Alumni being able to share their experiences is also an important part of this program, and an Alumni get-together is planned for tonight at the Koko Bean Cafe at 7pm, where Banayat, along with the DOI staff, are looking forward to hearing from the alumni.


Any student with questions about the program is encouraged to call Mr. Banayat at 256-3909 and he will have that number until Friday afternoon; he plans to fly out Friday night.


For any questions after he leaves, students can contact