Congressman Faleomavaega to speak at ASCC Fall 2012 Commencement

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Admissions & Records/Financial Aid Office estimates that approximately 120 students will receive their degrees and certificates during the College’s 57th Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for Friday, December 14th, at 10 a.m. in the ASCC Gymnasium.

The College continually strives to invite exemplary figures from American Samoa or with roots here to provide the keynote speech during its commencements, and this semester ASCC takes great honor in welcoming Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin to share his wisdom with the graduates.

Re-elected to his 13th term this past November, Congressman Faleomavaega holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Samoan in the U.S. Congress, as well as the only Samoan active within Congress, until the election this year of Hawai’i representative Tulsi Gabbard. Born in Vailoatai, American Samoa, Congressman Faleomavaega holds a Master of Law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston Law School. He also holds a BA degree in Political Science and History from Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah and an AA degree from Brigham Young University at Laie, Hawaii.

Faleomavaega served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, as well as in the Army Reserve as a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He was also a proud member of the 100 Battalion 442 Infantry Reserve Unit, Honolulu, Hawaii. Faleomavaega entered the political scene as Staff Counsel to the late Congressman Phillip Burton of California, who was then chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Insular Affairs.

He also served as Chief of Staff for Paramount Chief A.U. Fuimaono, American Samoa’s first elected Representative to Washington, DC, from 1973 to 1975. His long record of service to American Samoa began with a stint as Deputy Attorney General from 1981 to 1984, after which he became Lieutenant Governor for American Samoa from 1985 to 1988. He holds the traditional Samoan chieftain title “Faleomavaega” of the Fai’ivae family in Leone, and is married to Hinanui Bambridge Cave of Tahiti, with whom he has five children and five grandchildren.

Since being elected to Congress in 1989, in addition to working in the interests of American Samoa’s people, Faleomavaega has distinguished himself as a member if not the leader of numerous Washington committees. Today he is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He is the first Asian Pacific American ever to Chair the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and now serves as Ranking Member. Faleomavaega is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere which has oversight and jurisdiction over countries including Central and South America and Canada. On the Natural Resources Committee, Faleomavaega serves on the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

Faleomavaega has shared his insights from his years in public office in his book “Navigating the Future: A Samoan Perspective in U.S.-Pacific Relations”. The 1995 publication “outlines ways in which relations between the United States and the Pacific can be improved to mutual advantage and calls for deeper understanding of the exceedingly diverse cultures and socio-political systems of this vast region,” according to Professor Ron Crocombe of The Institute of Pacific Studies.

By contrast, Faleomavaega took a significant break from politics when he served as a crew member on the renowned Hawaiian-Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule’a when it sailed from Tahiti to Hawaii in 1987. “Faleomavaega has joined us on several previous occasions as keynote speaker,” said ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i, “but each time his speeches have been thoroughly different and never less than engaging.”

In addition to the Congressman, Governor Togiola Tulafono has also been invited to participate in the ceremony. “He has been with us for most of our commencements during his two terms in office,” said Dr. Le’i. “We look forward to him joining us one last time as governor, and we wish him the very best for the future.” The minister for the occasion will be Reverend Dr. Leanavaotaua Sekuini Seva'aetasi of CCCAS in Tula.

Besides the conferring of regular ASCC degrees and certificates, three students will graduate with their Bachelor of Education degrees in Elementary Education. Along with the two students who received the first ever B Ed degrees last semester, this will bring the total number of graduates from the ASCC four-year Teacher Education program to five.

A further anticipated highlight of each commencement is the announcement of the recipients of American Samoa Government scholarship and loan awards.

Two days prior to the commencement, the Student Services Division will host the Graduation and Awards Banquet for the graduates. At the banquet, the various ASCC academic departments present awards for outstanding achievement in specific areas, and the whole graduating class has the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed final social occasion together.

Anyone with questions on the 57th ASCC Commencement Ceremony can call the College at 699-9155 and ask for Student Services.


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