The CNMI Drug Court Program celebrated its fifth graduation last March 15 at the American Memorial Park Theater by notably graduating two women: Emma Iriarte and Waedynne Maratita.
Iriarte was one of the few early participants of the program when the CNMI Drug Court was first started back in December 2016. Both graduates have been sober for over 200 days and have successfully met all the Drug Court conditions required to pass the program.
It was symbolic though coincidental that the event happened during the National Women’s History Month, a celebration that honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. The occasion was marked by keynote speaker, first lady Diann T. Torres. Torres is an educator, a mother of six young children, and a mentor to many members of the community. Her leadership exudes through the Lady Diann Torres Foundation, which has made tremendous contributions to the islands, including promoting youth advancement, cultural sustainability in the CNMI, and recovery efforts from Super Typhoon Yutu.
In her remarks, Torres recognized the achievements the CNMI Drug Court has had since 2016 and the struggles the CNMI community had with addiction. She then recognized the women graduates saying, “We celebrate the bravery and the commitment of two great women, who one day decided to take on a challenge to change [their] lifestyle, to be better citizens in our community, to be loved by friends, to be trusted by family.” She closed by thanking the CNMI Drug Court team, overseen by Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio, that included caseworkers, program partners, families, friends, and the participants themselves, and recognizing that “a strong support system is the key to a successful program and positive outcomes.”
After the charges and motion to dismiss were presented by assistant attorney general Chester Hinds, Kim-Tenorio dismissed the charges. The judge then presented the certificates to the women graduates along with acting governor Arnold I. Palacios, Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Saipan), House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), and Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro.
It was apt that, in her closing remarks, Kim-Tenorio highlighted to the graduates that the graduation is not the end but the beginning of their real journey. Both women intend to continue their work towards maintaining their successes by taking it a day at a time. Maratita, for one, plans to return to school and possibly get a degree so she can help others who also struggle with their addiction. (PR)