Borja hopes more will join youth leadership program

Posted on Aug 15 2018

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Shelane Borja hopes more student leaders would join the third year of the Youth Leadership Cohort, and she looks forward to having Tinian and Rota students join the program in school year 2018-2019.

Student council leaders from various public and private schools on Saipan underwent a weeklong workshop as part of the 2018 YLC, which is a project under the Office of the Governor Special Assistant for Youth Affairs that Borja heads.

Borja said the program, which began last year, is open to all student council leaders where they present possible solutions to community problems. “They had a weeklong workshop with different people in our community, like current leaders and businessmen, just sharing their stories.”

“We wanted them [students] to meet each other and work together to figure out ways to help the community, recognize their participation and how to empower them to have other leaders become active members in our community, define what leadership means to them and recognizing that it is not just a position,” Borja added.

She said that representatives from the CNMI Scholarship Office and the local Department of Labor talked about career readiness and the current labor demands of Commonwealth industries.

That’s why, Borja said, it is hoped the program would spark more interest in student leaders this coming school year. “We’re hoping that it would be something that more student leaders are going to be a part of.”

“So, we’re hoping that more people are going to run for STUCO (in both public and private schools). And hopefully we could include Rota and Tinian as well,” said Borja, who added that they are planning to make September Youth Leadership Empowerment Month.

Last year, CNMI State Board of Education Student representative Mariah Manuel Cruz of Tinian had the chance to join the program.

Kagman High School students DeFaustina Camacho, Dianne Torres, Alanna Romolor, Kyle San Nicolas, and Goddhy Taitingfong presented on the benefits of having a Veterans Center in the CNMI that would assist the personal, medical, and other needs of those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The topic of Saipan Southern High School students Elaiza Suarez, Tommie Sablan, Mazie Manalang, Particia Atalig, Champ Sabanagan, and Andre Taitingfong were the economic impact of having a shopping mall on Saipan.

Mt. Carmel School’s Dayna Macaranas teamed up with Grace Christian Academy’s Wilgene Lieto and Marcky Masilungan to outline the advantages of having marijuana legalized in the CNMI.

Talia Trianni of GCA, and MHS’ Angela Barbo, Esther Huh, and John Bucayo talked about obesity, its impact on the community and ways to prevent. GCA’s Justine Calayo, MHS’ Carl Garon, and SSHS’ Tiah Camacho and Sheena Varias hope to someday have a Students Engaging in Academics and Leadership that would help students who struggle in some of their subjects and studies.

CNMI State Public School System Office of Curriculum and Instructional Services associate commissioner Jackie Quitugua said that YLC is another program that they are looking to include in the future.

“We need to sustain it. That means, we need to think of how we can give you elective credits because this is the choice that you have to make during summer—give up your summer so you can learn something. These are the kind of opportunities we’re thinking of how do we help our kids to move to the next level,” said Quitugua.

Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, who was the guest speaker at a recent certification ceremony at the American Memorial Park Visitors’ Center, challenged the students that would go off island to seek higher education to return and be part of helping the CNMI.

“I ask you to make it a point to come back to help the community and the students who are also trying to find their way on which direction to go, what career to take, and which college to go to. Last month alone, there were 5,000 job openings,” said Benavente, who added that she and her husband, former lieutenant Diego Benavente, are some of those who came back to the CNMI.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said all occupations on the island are important. “Every one of you have a different occupation that you want to be; don’t let anyone tell you that it is not important or you should shift.”

“Do what you believe what’s right for you, because that’s the only way you could help the community, by doing something that you are passionate about.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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