Northern Marianas College interim president Frankie Eliptico updated business leaders on the college’s recent activities, programs and building construction plans during the Saipan Chamber of Commerce general membership meeting Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan Ballroom. All these developments coincide with the college’s celebration of its 40th anniversary this year.
“The last presentation I did at the Chamber of Commerce was about a year ago and we just celebrated the commencement of our students but did not have a commencement exercise due to the pandemic. …Last week, we gave away 245 certificates and degrees…[for] a combination of class[es] 2020 and 2021. …We held an in-person graduation ceremony and since we recognize social distancing procedures…we rented out three venues—Hyatt, Saipan World Resort, and Crowne Plaza—and have their family and friends join them online,” he said.
“…We had over 200 graduates, and I’d like to stress their achievements because they are in our community, they are employed by your organizations and they are helping to power our economy. I want to rid of this mentality that many of our students are just going to school—many of our students are juggling a full-time job, a family, taking care of their elderly, and many other obligations. We do have many non-traditional students and they deserve the recognition,” he added.
According to Eliptico, NMC has seen its number of degrees and certificates climb over the years. “In fact, if you look at the numbers from 2010, it has more than doubled. I wanted to show that just because we see more and more students looking to NMC for their personal and professional growth,” he said.
“We will be highlighting partnerships with various organizations like the Chamber, Northern Marianas Technical Institute, the CNMI Department of Labor, with non-profit organizations who are in this room and other agencies to help make sure that we are meeting local workforce needs. We also want to help you or ask you to help keep part of our students’ success by recruiting them, hiring them, offering internship opportunities, mentoring them, and participating in NMC events and activities, like our career fair,” he added.
NMC is one of the establishments that opened their facilities as COVID-19 inoculation sites to help the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force bring vaccinations closer to villages and residents. To date, they have vaccinated 150 individuals.
As for its rebuilding plans, Eliptico said that things are moving along smoothly.
“Everybody has seen the traumatic photos of losing 85% of our campus due to Super Typhoon Yutu. …Imagine popping into your campus of 30-some years and 85% is gone—classrooms, labs, cafeteria, the student center, faculty offices, everything gone. …We are completing within the next few weeks our facilities master plan and that will include our flagship building, as well as other buildings that will house our academic and non-academic programs, including student services, and many other facilities that we lost in the typhoon,” he said.
“We are looking at broader terms as well like what should our neighborhood look like, so we’ve engaged with folks from the Department of Public Works and other agencies, the Governor’s Office and Lt. Governor’s office, and other organizations to be able to plan how make the major road of Dandan (from NMC to Shell Gas Station in Dandan) walkable, a lot of different shops, small cafes or small boutiques. …We are looking at putting trees in the middle of the road so traffic can slow down, putting sidewalks because there are no sidewalks right now in this area…[and] turn this area into commercial hub,” he added.
Eliptico hopes that when all the construction plans are realized, the community will be looking at NMC as technologically advanced, resilient to typhoons, culturally, aesthetic and, most of all, something that the community can be proud of.