Priscilla and William Torres of Saipan will celebrate Mother’s Day this year in Honolulu, Hawaii, while watching their daughter, Nicole Manglona Torres, graduate from the William S. Richardson School of Law with a Native Hawaiian Law Certificate.
The annual law school commencement is this Sunday, May 12, 2013, at the Andrews Amphitheatre at 4:30pm. Nicole Torres is among only 11 other fellow graduates this year and 39 other alumni with the Native Hawaiian law certificate distinction.
“One of the main reasons I chose to pursue a law degree at Richardson was the opportunity to obtain a Native Hawaiian Law Certificate and engage in dialogue on legal issues affecting indigenous communities, especially in the Pacific region, with experts in the field and peers familiar with such issues,” said Torres. “No other program parallels the Native Hawaiian Law Certificate. I’m truly grateful for the program.”
Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law offers the certificate program.
Torres enrolled in various courses to earn her certificate. She described some of her courses. “Second Year Seminar gave me the chance to analyze political and legal issues affecting my people in the Marianas. Federal Indian Law and Native Hawaiian Rights provided me with more insight into the legal issues affecting Indians and Native Hawaiians. Native Law and Policy gave me the opportunity to examine current policies affecting native peoples. Native Hawaiian Rights Clinic introduced me to tackling indigenous-related issues through the litigation process.”
Associate law professor and Ka Huli Ao director Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie stated: “Nicole is a very remarkable and hardworking student. We will miss her––she has been my research assistant and has made a significant contribution to my own work. We are excited about her career as an attorney and an advocate for indigenous peoples.”
In addition to her participation with the Native Hawaiian Law Certificate program, Torres also served as the executive comments editor for the Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal. She was also a member of the University of Hawaii Marianas Club.
Torres made sure she took advantage of the opportunity to apply what she learned in school to the real world. She interned at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs directly with the organization’s Chief Advocate, Breann Nuuhiwa. Nuuhiwa was also Torres’ professor for the Federal Indian Law and Native Law and Policy courses.
After graduation Torres will return home where she will serve as a law clerk to the CNMI Supreme Court. While appreciative of her experience in the Native Hawaiian Law program, Torres looks forward to an expansion of the program to fully encompass the important issues affecting other Pacific Island people.
"The William S. Richardson School of Law is the perfect place to be the center for Pacific Island legal studies," she said.
Prior to law school, Torres demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and earned summa cum laude honors from the University of San Francisco in the spring of 2010 when she graduated. In that same year, Torres was also a recipient of the prestigious Truman Scholar Award given by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to pursue graduate study. Only 60 students nationally are selected each year to be Truman Scholars. (PR)