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ASCC graduation historic, 2 Bachelors Degrees awarded

It was history in the making when the American Samoa Community College handed out its first two Bachelor of Education degrees to Selutoga Me’i Fuiava and Tasia Misipati Luafalealo Kurene Talamoni during the ASCC 56th Commencement Ceremony, held last Friday for 128 graduating students.

The graduation ceremony, held at the ASCC gymnasium, was packed with family and friends. ASCC Vice President of Administration and Finance Mikaele Etuale was the Master of Ceremony, and the Invocation was given by Reverend Dr Elia Titimaea Ta’ase.

Governor Togiola Tulafono gave the commencement address and acknowledged the ASCC faculty and staff for their hard work on a daily basis, teaching the future leaders of  American Samoa.

“Life is a paper bag, the puzzle of life is in front of you, there is no box of guidance... you don’t even know what the picture looks like, you’re just looking at this beautiful picture of pieces and it’s your job to fit the pieces. The teachers have done their part, they molded the pieces and gave them to you. Now, how do you fit the pieces of the puzzle to the puzzle of life?” he asked the graduates.

He said there have been many pieces handed to you, beginning from your birth, by your parents — nurturing you to become the person you are today.

“Your faifeau (Pastors) taught you the Bible and the elements of Christian life, your teachers taught you how to speak English, your TV set gave you all your rap music, these are all parts of that pieces of the puzzle... but not all pieces are beautiful and good looking, some pieces are ugly and dark.  

“The paper bag is the mystery that you must have in you — the secret here today is what you will do with this.”

Togiola told the graduates some may be frustrated, thinking they don’t have time to figure out this mystery, however, the puzzle does not go away.

“It never has and never will, it must stay with you, whether you like it or not it’s glued to you, it was made for you and it’s yours and yours alone.”  

The governor said that one of the reasons the ASCC faculty and staff works ever harder, given the challenges of limited funding and limited resources, is to meet their responsibility to the next generation.

“The graduates are our next faifeau (Pastors), teachers, business owners, business leaders, the next generation of our government leaders… this is part of our generational responsibility,” he said.

“One generation must never go away unless they have met their responsibility to the next generation,because that’s part of the pieces of your life — how you are going to meet your responsibilities as a generation.” 

Togiola said if the government is going to do a better job training the next generation of American Samoa, there must be an institution in American Samoa to do so (referring to a four- year college).

“We can continue to send our young people outside, but it’s better if we can do it here… I know we can, I have faith in the ASCC administration... that we can…”

He said that it has begun already — and for the first time, ASCC will be handing out four-year degrees to two individuals.  It’s a beginning of something better for the community, he noted.

The governor also said that we will eventually have to pay for our education ourselves.

“We all have to pay for it ourselves, we do get some help from the federal government and when we pay for it, it’s painful these days where we have limited resources, no job, and grim economic forces beyond our control. Education would probably lead to open doors that will allow us to move away from the influence of the global economy.

“We have to make that commitment and pay for it and we all must share the burden and what we have to do is share how we train you”.

He said one of the responsibilities we must always keep in mind is to commit ourselves to making the next generation better than ours, and that’s what education is about.

The governor told the graduates that he feels very happy that he’s looking at a smarter generation — the people who will guide his grandchildren.

“You will be the leaders of my grandchildren and I have confidence and am comfortable that you will do a better job than us. We won’t be around to help them the way we are helping you. I trust the future of my grandchildren to your hands”.

Togiola told the graduates to plan for tomorrow and live for today and meet their generational responsibilities.

Dr. Irene Helsham, the Dean of Academic Affairs presented the graduates with their diplomas, while Uta Dr Laloulu Tagoilelagi accepted the graduates. Musical selections were presented by the ASCC Concert Choir led by Namulauulu Dr. Paul Pouesi.


American Samoa Scholarships:                  Roseanne Felise, Dona Domi Maifala, Toetu Peau, Miracle Sene, Angel Vaimauga, Caleb Scanlan and Saipele Tofiga

Student ASG loan program recipients:                  Teuilafestival Angelina Lemisio, Elaine Tago, Kristina Vailolo, Tautino Passi,, Eric Roe, Metogivale Meredith, So’onafai Lagai, Josephine Afoa, Antele’a Lalotoa, Afeafeaupitolau Filemoni, Victoria Fano, Queenmary Otemai, Evette Puaauli,, Liliatupu Asotau, Amy Rebelukag, Kristine Jamison, Josephine Tupua, Norlene Afalava and Leeandra Hall

McDonald’s American Samoa 2012 Scholarship:                  Teuilafestival Angelina Lemisio

Summa Cum Laude:                  Teuilafestival Angelina Lemisio, with the GPA of 3.90-4.00.                      

Magna Cum Laude :                  Roseanne Donna Felise, with the  GPA 3.75-3.89

Cum Laude:                  Dona Domi Maifala, Eric Saunoa Roe, MIralce Denise Sene, Elaine Fuamailelagimanuia Tago, Kristina M Bandy Vailolo, Betty Roseanne Wells, Tautino Pelenatete Passi, Saipele Matagi Tofiga, Metotagivale Charity Meredith and Joy Taala — all with GPAs of 3.50-3.74.