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ASCC students awarded NMSAS scholarships

As the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS) grows, one of the ways it serves the community is to provide scholarships to American Samoa Community College (ASCC) students studying Marine Science.


The Marine Science Program at ASCC has offered an Associate of Arts with an emphasis in Marine Science and a Certificate of Proficiency in the Marine Option Program (MOP) since 1999. The Associate of Arts (AA) has been replaced by an Associates of Science (AS) in Marine Science as of fall 2012, which focuses more closely on Marine Science rather than the more general AA.


Non-Marine Science majors can enroll in marine science courses to fulfill general life or physical science requirements, or enroll in the MOP Certificate program, allowing them to explore Marine Science without changing their major.


Charles Miller, an ASCC graduate who majored in Criminal Justice, took the opportunity to explore the Marine Science Program without changing his major, and has since received funding for two years from the NMSAS to attend UH Hilo as a Marine Science major.


Charles became interested in Marine Science through his involvement in the Toa o le Tai program run by the NMSAS that provides swimming instruction and Marine Science lessons to students at Samoana High School. He initially enrolled in MSC280 (Marine Science Special Projects), which is an intensive field-based course modeled after the University of Hawaii’s Quantitative Underwater Ecological Survey Techniques (QUEST) course. MSC280 students can earn a QUEST certificate which is recognized by UH. 


While staying a Criminal Justice major, Charles also enjoyed learning about Marine Science and found he had a passion for field work. This led him to an internship with NMSAS which turned into a temporary full time employment position upon graduation.Charles impressed his mentors at NMSAS enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend UH Hilo for his Bachelors in Marine Science.


The scholarship provides $10,000 of support per year for two years (provided academic performance is satisfactory), and requires eight weeks of interning for NMSAS per summer as well as a commitment to return and work for NMSAS for at least three years upon completion of the Bachelors program. This scholarship program is an excellent example of how to both encourage and retain American Samoa’s brightest young minds who want to bring their skills back to help their community.


Another recent recipient of a scholarship to study Marine Science from NMSAS is Meghan Tanuvasa, who received funding to enroll in several Marine Science courses at ASCC. This is one way the NMSAS and ASCC work together to encourage and enable interested students to pursue an education in Marine Science.  Both Meghan and Charles were selected for these scholarships based on their performance in their internships at NMSAS.


Living on a small island in the world’s biggest ocean as we do, it makes perfect sense to cultivate in our young men and women a passion for understanding marine ecosystems.  The NMSAS and the ASCC Marine Science Program hope to continue to support and guide local youth towards realizing their dreams of a career based on their passion for the sea.


If you would like more information on the ASCC’s Marine Science Program please contact the Marine Science Coordinator, Kelley Anderson Tagarino, at 699-9155 x 356 or email