Million Dollar Scholars, MYPros hold first ‘Decision Day’

THE Million Dollar Scholars program, in partnership with the Marianas Young Professionals, hosted “Decision Day” on Tuesday evening at the Hyatt to honor local students who are going to college.

Kagman High School teacher and program founder Gerard Van Gils said May 1 was National College Decision Day —   the deadline for high school seniors to decide which college to attend.

“National Decision Day happens all over the country,” he said. On Saipan, it was a celebration for 44 students who will go to 14 different colleges and universities.

Gerard Van Gils

“We have doubled our number this year,” he added. “In previous years, we had 20 kids…going to college. We need a professional workforce — engineers, medical professionals — and MDS and MYPros want to build the professional workforce of tomorrow. We have to start right now.”

The Million Dollar Scholars program or MDS was launched seven years ago when one of Van Gils’ students told him she wanted to go to college.

But he said they were too late for everything. “We had missed the deadlines already. I made a commitment that, in the following year, I would help students get ready for college.”  And so the Million Dollar Scholars program was born.

MDS helps students prepare for college. “We start looking for colleges for students. We ‘package’ our scholars, put them in cohorts and some of them will go to a college or university together,” Van Gils said, adding that a student who has no support may fail in college.

“That first year, we applied for scholarships as a group. We prepared our students throughout the entire senior year,” he added.

MDS provides mentoring, social support and, in some cases, financial help, he said.

“We want to connect the kids to the resources available from various government and non-profit organizations. We help kids with suitcases, passports, whatever they need. But it is really not about a specific financial amount; it is more about how we can help those students get to college and on to a better life.”

On Tuesday night, each of the 44 college-bound student went on stage to announce the name of the college or university they will attend.

Jeremy Agulto, Christian Arceo, Alyssa Cepeda, Kyle Fabia, Chelsea Isip, Aaron Ogumoro, Enrique Rabauliman and Angel Legaspi are headed to Boise State University.

Those going to Eastern Oregon University are Kayjon Boadi, Manny Borja, Justine Kirby, Danielle Pineda and Marian Danga,

Kyle Camacho, Jeffrey Consignado, Mike Fitial, Dustin Palacios, Eugene Villagomez, Marijean Fernandez and Tiava To’omata will go to Dixie State University.

Maureen Cruz, Latisha Deleon Guerrero, Janie Rabauliman and Ryan Francisco will attend Northern Marianas College.

Aldionne Maglanque, Patrick Santos, Johnson Atalig, Janelle Lavetoria and Isabel Palacios will go to the University of Guam.

Bella Semens and Charmel Shrestha will attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Junita Jetley and Frances Santos will go to Western Oregon University.

Rose Ann Bichayda and Kayla John will attend Washington State University.

Gedin Cabrera will go to Hollins University; Austin Deleon Guerrero, Portland State University; Tiffany Cayading, Kapiolani Community College; and Meilleni Ferrer, Central Washington University.

Mozina Khan said she will enroll at the Adamson University in Manila, the Philippines to be with her mother, who has been away from her for years.

Andre Menbrebre and Cherlene Detera are still undecided.

The students said they considered a lot of factors when it came to choosing a school, including location, class size and academic majors.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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