Five newly graduated high school students to whom college was almost an afterthought are now going to the University of Guam on an athletic scholarship.
Christian Tapay, Paulynn Joyce, Antonio Norita, Isaiah Teigita, and Aloyzeys Angeles all signed their letters of intent to attend UOG during the UOG Athletic Scholarship Signing and Alumni Luncheon last Friday at Hyatt Regency Saipan.
Under the program, the Tan Siu Lin Foundation donated $10,000 to help the new student-athletes start their educational and athletic journey at UOG.
“I’m very nervous and excited with this opportunity because this will open new doors for me and it will help me improve and get more knowledge at UOG,” said Tapay.
The 5’4” Tapay was the starting point guard of the Marianas High School Dolphins, who finished runner-up to Tinian High School in the 2021-2022 IT&E Interscholastic Boys High School Basketball Championships.
“I would like to thank my family, friends, and coaches Walter Mendez and Joe Diaz who trained me and pushed me to be the best,” said Tapay, who also suited up for Rollers, Titans, and Ol’Aces.
Like Tapay, Joyce will be playing basketball at UOG, but unlike Tapay Joyce will also be suiting for the Lady Tritons’ soccer team.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and for this program. Two months ago I didn’t know where I was going to be in college. Fortunately, [Catherine Toves-Attao] called me and told me about this program,” said the Kanoa striker, forward, and midfielder and Ol’Aces shooting guard.
As for taking up a tough course like engineering, Joyce said she will try her best to balance academics and sports in college.
“I always wanted to play sports when I go to college so this opportunity is perfect. I want to be an engineer and help design and shape up this world that we live in. I’d like to thank Jerry Tan, Tan Holdings, UOG, Mark Mendiola, and Ivan Blanco Jr. for helping us and assisting us on this journey,” said the former member of the CNMI National Women’s Football Team.
For Norita, having the opportunity to enroll at UOG while playing baseball was a dream come true.
“It’s great. I never really thought of going to college until they brought this to us. I’d like to say we’re one of the lucky ones. This is just the beginning. Learn to embrace this opportunity and once we’re done come back and give back to our community,” said the former Tanapag Braves shortstop and second base.
Ditto for Teigita, who added that enrolling at UOG is really a life-changing opportunity.
“I was not even planning to go to college. I was just trying to get back into playing baseball because it’s been years. When I went to the [UOG baseball] clinic, the scholarship opportunity was there so I grabbed it,” said the former catcher of three-time Saipan Little League champion Tanapag Falcons,
Angeles, meanwhile, echoed what the four earlier said about enrolling at UOG as a great opportunity to get a college degree and still being involved in the sport you love.
“I’m pretty sure most of us didn’t even think of going to college. I think it’s great to have this chance to get a higher education and continue playing,” said the former Tan Holdings, MP United, and Kanoa FC defender, who like Joyce also played for the CNMI Men’s National Football Team.
Like Joyce, he also thanked Attao-Toves and Blanco for helping him sign with UOG.
UOG president Dr. Thomas Krise said the athletic scholarships awarded to the five student-athletes from the CNMI is all part of UOG’s initiative to advance the student enrichment element of their strategic plan, “Para Hulo” (ever upward).
“The student enrichment element is trying to ensure a full university/college experience for our students—so the athletic program and the recreational program are really important. There’s also a significant leadership component and teamwork development that happens with our student-athletes so it achieves a number of aspects about the total college experience we’re providing at UOG.”
UOG Enrollment Management & Student Success dean Lawrence Camacho welcomed Tapay, Joyce, Norita, Teigita, and Angeles to the fold and said their signings fulfill one of UOG’s objectives to have and promote a robust athletic program.
“Back when we were crafting it we had men’s and women’ basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and that was about it. But we had to strive for more and even though we’re not in the NCAA we need to do some networking to get our students excited and now we’ve developed baseball, women’s rugby, volleyball, and beach volleyball,” said Camacho, who hails from Saipan.
Northern Marianas Sports Association president Jerry Tan, who is an alumnus of UOG, congratulated the five student-athletes who are enrolling at UOG.
“I’m very, very happy for our five athletes who have this opportunity to go to my school and very, very proud of the University of Guam and what the institution has done for the community. You can never go wrong with higher education. It’s something that you earn and nobody’s going to take it away from you. That’s going to help you to be successful in life.”