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McDonald’s awards $56K in scholarships to 6 local students

McDonald's scholarship recipients and their parentsChairwoman of the McDonald's American Samoa Scholarship Program, Dolores Tautolo (standing 2nd from left) with other the board members and scholarship recipientsMerenita Setu

[please insert McD’s logo into story on front page. thanks Rhonda]



Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Four high school seniors and two ASCC graduates have been awarded a combined total of $56,000 in scholarship money to fund their education, thanks to the McDonald's American Samoa Scholarship Program.

A special presentation ceremony was held yesterday morning inside the McDonald's conference room in Fagatogo, led by scholarship board chairperson, Dolores Tautolo.

Only five of the scholarship recipients were present. Elysha Samatua, recipient of the $20,000 off-island scholarship to study accounting at Dixie State University in Utah, is already off island. Her parents, Barrit and Eseta Samatua attended yesterday's ceremony in her place.

In his brief remarks, Barrit Samatua shared the hardships he and his wife Eseta have had to endure, to get their daughter through college. He said he is a farmer and therefore, doesn't have the means to pay for Elysha's pursuit of a college degree, on his own.

He said it was hard to secure funding, because Elysha was not born in American Samoa. According to Samatua, his daughter was accepted to Dixie State and she insisted that she start school right away. "But we didn't have enough money to do it," he said.

The family struggled and the couple was able to get Elysha on the plane to Utah where she is now taking courses towards an accounting degree.

Samatua said the tuition is $11,000 per semester and when they received news that Elysha had been selected for the $20,000 McDonald's scholarship, they were beyond grateful.

"$10,000 is a lot of money and I thank McDonald's for this award," he said.

Under the off-island scholarship award, McDonald's will pay Elysha's college education in installments of $10,000 a year ($5,000 per semester) for two years. A total of $20,000.

Students and parents were reminded yesterday by McDonald's purchasing and marketing manager, Katie Leilua Afuamua that their scholarship awards require them to submit their transcripts to McDonald's, so the company can ensure that the students are in compliance with the required GPA standards, set forth under the scholarship program.

Parents and students were required yesterday to sign an agreement with McDonald's - a contract that binds them to certain conditions that must be met in order for the company to fund their schooling.

The McDonald's Scholarship Program has been in existence for more than 13 years and altogether, over $500,000 has been awarded to deserving local students.

Applying for a scholarship is a very competitive process. Each applicant must meet the required minimum GPA of 3.5; an SAT score of at least 1,000; and they must undergo an extensive interview with members of the Scholarship Board.

Those applying for the off-island scholarships must be accepted to an accredited U.S. university.

McDonald’s opened its doors at the turn of the millennium and to commemorate its 20 years of serving American Samoa, company president and CEO Tautolo Agaoleatu Charlie Tautolo - with support from the scholarship board - wanted to offer a 'Special Award' based on merits of not only academic excellence, but also exemplary leadership and service.

Therefore, a $20,000 off-island scholarship called the “Agaoleatu Charlie Tautolo Exemplary Leadership Award” has been added this year, to honor the McDonald's CEO/president for his leadership and guidance that has brought the franchise to where it is today.

“These students are our future, and we are proud to be able to help them in achieving their academic goals so they can return and serve our community," said scholarship board chairwoman, Dolores Tautolo. She, along with the board members, congratulate this year's scholarship recipients and also the parents and teachers who work and make sacrifices to ensure these students succeed.

2019-2020 Academic Scholarship award winners:

(4) high school seniors to ASCC $4,000.00 each

  • ¥      Merenita Setu

Tafuna High School

Major: Accounting

Parents: Anita & Edward

Village: Tafeta


  • ¥      Kesilory Salavao Mamea

Tafuna High School

Major: Political Science

Parent: Ivale & Sauano

Village: Mapusaga Fou


  • ¥      Annie Risati

Tafuna High School

Major: Criminal Justice

Parents: Matile & Pitopola

Village: Tafuna


  • ¥      Maribett Malubay

Samoana High School

Major: Nursing

Parents: Easter & Joel

Village: Fagatogo


(2) U.S university scholarships $20,000.00 each


  • ¥      Elysha Samatua – McDonald’s Off-Island Scholarship Award

            Major: Accounting

            Dixie State University - Utah

            Parents: Eseta & Barrit

            Village: Vaitogi


  • ¥      Ionatana Tuitasi – Agaoleatu Charlie Tautolo Exemplary Leadership Award

            Major: Urban Studies

            University of Las Vegas  - Nevada

            Parents: Sifagatogo & Teetai

            Village: Malaeloa