Marianas High School alumna Jill Ann Arada is spending her summer volunteering at the Commonwealth Health Center. Arada, 20, is one of three students from MHS who received the Gates Millennium Scholarship two years ago.
She currently studies at Indiana Institute of Technology and plans to graduate with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering.
Arada is shadowing CHC’s Antonio Mafnas, who repairs and maintains hemodialysis machines as the sole biomedical engineer in the department.
“Since I was coming back home to Saipan anyways and my summer vacation is three months long, I thought to myself that I should do something valuable with my time,” she explained. “My mentor, Antonio Mafnas, has been working at CHC for 22 years and I will, no doubt, learn a great amount of critical solving techniques.”
The rising college junior is expected to work on troubleshooting hemodialysis machines.
Arada noted that she is the first biomedical engineering major from the island. She hopes that those in the workforce know that students from the CNMI who pursue higher education in the mainland will bring back “knowledge, technology, and advancements to the island community.”
When asked about her college experience, Arada explained how receiving the 10-year scholarship impacted her life: “GMS has impacted my studies and experience by showing me that the challenges that minorities face, especially being a female minority engineer, is no joke.”
She added, “People tend to not take you seriously as an “engineer,” but the things that I have learned to grow as an individual has helped me overcome many obstacles and prove to people that race, gender, and things like that take no control in your ability to achieve your dreams.”
Arada urges her peers who leave the island to return to work in the community. “It is important that people who leave come back and work in the CNMI so our community can grow. Now that the young people are going off to college, they should not forget their roots and the community that they were raised in.”
In doing so, she said, the next generation will prosper.