Saipan Tribune correspondent off to UC Berkeley

Thomas Lee A. Manglona proudly wears his University of California Berkeley T-shirt in this undated photo. (Contributed Photo)

Thomas Lee A. Manglona proudly wears his University of California Berkeley T-shirt in this undated photo. (Contributed Photo)

Saipan Tribune corespondent Thomas Lee Atalig Manglona II will be flying to California today for college.

The Mount Carmel School alumnus will be attending the University of California Berkeley, majoring in Media Studies with a minor in Journalism under the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship is a scholarship program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program is aimed at targeting students that are high achieving and funding their whole college education so as to reduce the financial burden.

Manglona became interested in journalism at a young age. Since middle school, the native of Rota has been writing about community events and issues on Rota.

The southermost island of the CNMI chain didn’t have a daily newspaper to keep people updated about their surroundings, so Manglona began writing about it in his blog.

“I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. I remember waking up early in the morning when I was in elementary school to watch Christiane Amanpour on CNN. I wanted to be just like her and use words to change lives and the society at large,” said Manglona.

Manglona is one of 11 recipients of GMS that come from the CNMI. It is also worth noting that he is the only recipient from Mount Carmel High School. Aside from the GMS, Manglona also bagged numerous awards like English Language Arts, Theology, and Social Science, the Bishop Tomas A. Camacho Christian Service award, Governor’s Leadership award, and the President’s award for Meritorious Achievement in high school.

Manglona said he was able to balance his studies with his correspence work not only in the Tribune but Pacific New Center as well through diligence, hard work, and passion.

“I was able to balance school work with my reporting by creating a daily schedule. I stuck to that schedule and, in the end, I was able to submit my stories and my class assignments. I spent a lot of late nights on my reporting, but because I love it, it did not seem as stressful work for me, it’s my passion,” he said.

When asked about his choice of college, Manglona responded with, “I committed to attend U.C. Berkeley because of the well-rounded education it provides and its call to students to view their academic journey not as solely vocational but in service to their communities. I wanted to attend a school that encompassed a diverse student body, rigorous course work, and an administration that values student voices on every level.”

Manglona also wanted to attend the university that his relatives went to. “My cousin Savana Manglona, godmother Ramona Manglona, uncle John Manglona, and uncle William Torres all graduated from U.C. Berkeley and told me about their life-changing experiences. That only made me want to be a part of the Golden Bear community even more.”

Manglona has proven that despite the odds, if you really put your mind and heart into what you do, more opportunities will come your way.

“Share your story, because it matters. Your circumstance or even your peers can discourage you from doing this on any platform, but you should never forget the value of your voice. While it is important to heed advice from others, it is equally critical that you stay true to yourself in pursuing your passion, whatever it may be.”


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