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Most students at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) are US citizens or nationals, which gives them access to federal financial aid, particularly the Pell Grant which covers the majority of a student’s college expenses. ASCC also serves a number of young men and women who do not qualify for financial aid and thus need to meet the cost of their attendance through independent means.

To assist these non-Pell students, as well as other applicants who meet the criteria, the College offers two in-house scholarships, the “Saili le Atamai” Student Government Association (SGA) award and the Presidential Merit Scholarship. The Student Services Division of ASCC recently announced the recipients of these scholarships for the fall 2012 semester.

The “Saili le Atamai” Scholarship of $250, funded by the SGA, is intended for students who do not qualify for any federal aid. The criteria includes the student maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.00, having already completed at least 12 credits or more at ASCC, attending the College on a full-time basis, and being committed towards earning a particular Associate Degree or Certificate of Proficiency.  This semester’s recipients are Mr. Nikolao Alo, Ms. Eirenei Tesimale, and Ms. Malelega Atau.

Mr. Alo, a non-traditional student aged 41, is pursuing his AA degree in Liberal Arts and so far has met the cost of taking four classes per semester with only the support of his spouse and a work-study position on campus. “I choose to pursue my dreams in order to secure a decent job,” he said. “I aspire to graduate from ASCC and become a productive member of our local community in American Samoa.”

Ms. Tesimale, 21, majors in Natural Resources and has a background in teaching children the word of God and volunteering at Fatuoaiga Hope House. “I have while working with Community & Natural Resources to help people save our native plants and terrestrial native animals,” she explained, “and also to encourage them to grow their own plants, fruits and vegetables to lessen our dependence on imports.”

Ms. Atau, 19, is pursuing her degree in Accounting & Business Management. She has relied on her family to enable her to attend ASCC and recalls that as someone ineligible for financial aid, “I had to hustle every day because my education comes at a high cost.” In addition to her studies, she has also served the community through the “Make a Difference” club and the “Youth Serving Samoa Project” organized by PICED.

ASCC also offers the Presidential Merit Scholarship of $500, which is open for application by both those eligible for financial aid and those who are not. Among other criteria, applicants must have completed 24 credits and maintained a grade point average of 3.60 or higher.

This semester’s recipients are Ms. Delilah Asiata, 19, and Ms. Pearl Sheck, 20.

“Growing up in a large family with limited resources, I strongly believe education is the only way out of poverty and I want to make a difference in my family,” said Ms. Asiata, a Business Management major who intends to graduate this semester. Reflecting her belief in helping others, Ms. Asiata has served as a tutor in high school, participated in outreach programs to Fatuoaiga Hope House with her church, and is now a Pathfinder teacher who at the end of every month takes her class to pick up trash around the community.

Ms. Sheck, currently not only the President of the SGA but also the reigning Miss ASCC, said the scholarship will provide an added boost to her long-term goals. “My dreams are simply to make a change benefiting not only myself but also people around me,” she said. “I want to be that person of whom people say ‘she made a difference’ or ‘she saved my life’. The scholarship will help me not only to achieve these dreams, but also to encourage others.”

ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i congratulated this semester’s in-house scholarship recipients and encouraged all students who feel they may be eligible to apply in the future. “We feel fortunate to have these resources available for students who make significant academic achievements even without the benefit of financial aid,” she said, “and we hope the public will join us in also recognizing the community service these individuals often provide.