Photos: ASCC graduates 121 at 60th Commencement
The weather was perfect and the crowd was just right last Friday during the 60th Commencement Exercise for the American Samoa Community College.
The event started with the usual procession, posting of colors, and an opening anthem performed by the ASCC concert choir.
The invocation was delivered by Rev. Fa’atauva’a A. Talamoni who spoke about wisdom and knowledge, and challenged the graduates to “continue to strive for greatness, and let God fulfill your dreams and goals.”
Welcoming remarks were offered by ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i and special remarks were made by Acting Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga.
Amidst the ceremony, a special song was performed by Tonya Tuigamala, who sang LeeAnn Womack’s blockbuster hit, “I Hope You Dance”, to a receptive crowd with people who either sang along or nodded to the tune.
The Commencement Address was delivered by Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona, the Director of the Dept. of Human and Social Services who urged the graduates to always be respectful and stay true to their Samoan culture and heritage.
“There is a strong correlation between successful and respectful,” he told the graduates. Taeaoafua challenged the graduates to love and honor their parents and to stay close to God.
No matter where you may go in life and how successful you will be, if you do not honor and respect your parents, then you have failed, he said.
The DHSS Director told the graduates that American Samoa is unlike any other place in the world, and that is why it is crucial for them, the youth, to continue to hold on and cherish our traditions and culture, including our language.
Taeaoafua said he was once a student and he is living proof that everyone has to start from the bottom and work towards the top. After so many years of hard work and service, I have become who I am today, he told the graduates, adding that even though he has a matai title and leads one of the largest departments in the American Samoa Government, one can still catch him doing domestic duties as part of his service to his family, village and church.
“Believe in yourself,” he kept reiterating. “Don’t let anyone else’s voice drown out your inner voice and what your heart tells you.”
As has become the norm in ASCC graduations — there are no valedictorian or salutatorian awards, but acknowledged are the top two graduating with the highest grade point average in the class: Summa Cum Laude (grade point average of 3.90-4.00) was Jireh Kaylani Kruse, followed by Anna Imelda Afoa, who graduated Magna Cum Laude (GPA of 3.75-3.89).
In addition to the graduates, who received their Associate of Arts degrees, nine graduates received their Certificate of Proficiency in Practical Nursing, while Fa’aletaua Saili was the lone graduate in the ASCC Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education Program.
Mile Farani received a Master of Public Administration from American Public University, while Seugatalitasi Custodio, Cassandra La’apui, and Patrick Tom Solia were all awarded a Master of Arts in Education from Ashford University.
Amy Jennifer Rebelukag received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from UH Manoa while Gloria Maiava-Tuigamala was awarded a Master of Arts in Education (Teacher Leadership) from the University of Phoenix.
A Masters of Science in Nursing degree was awarded to Genevieve Ugaitafa.
The DPS Office of Highway Safety congratulates this year’s graduates and encourages everyone to practice safety on the road at all times. Don’t drink and drive and always buckle up. Let’s make this a safe and accident-free graduation season.