Lilly Jean King Bautista would begin the new chapter of her life at Utah State University this Fall semester aiming to return to the CNMI a full-fledged teacher. She said that giving her service back to the Public School System is her way of thanking all who helped her reach her dreams.
Bautista finished on top of Kagman High School’s Class of 2016—a total of 125 students—where 20 are part of the Ayuyus’ inaugural Million Dollar Scholars program, six of which earned Gates Millennium Scholarships.
She was the recipient of the highest academic award, valedictorian, aside from getting the Outstanding Female Graduate honors and earning four of the 10 Departmental Content Area Awards—Language Arts, Mathematics, Japanese, and Physical Education.
“I was educated at all Kagman schools—elementary and middle schools. I would like to become a teacher and give everything back to educate the minds of the younger generation,” said Bautista, the youngest of two children by Luisito and Rosalie King Bautista.
A bachelor’s degree in elementary education is what she wants to finish for her undergraduate studies. She also wants to earn her postgraduate—masters and doctorate degrees in education—before coming back to Saipan.
“I would finish everything before I come back to teach here on Saipan. I would like to arm myself with the proper knowledge that I would share to the young kids,” added Bautista, who was also the valedictorian at Kagman Elementary School and Chacha Oceanview Middle School.
In her valedictory speech, Bautista recalled how her father, Luisito—who was originally from Imus in Cavite province, Philippines—came to Saipan in 1987 to work as a construction laborer while her mother, the former Rosalie King, moved to Saipan to study but was denied a college education since their family could not afford it. “They are the tree and I am the fruit. By your encouragement, I dedicate everything to you.”
She said that she would spend more time with her family after four years of hard work and dedication in order to reach her goal. “But I will also prepare myself to live on my own.”
“This will be my first time to leave Saipan. I must prepare myself mentally, physically, and financially,” added Bautista, who earned full scholarship at Utah State.
Her message to other students: “We should rise and work together as one nation. No matter what happens, strive hard to reach your dreams.”
Rob Tavilla, Tribe Marianas co-owner, was the keynote speaker and told the graduates to conquer their fears. “Remember that four letter word and never let that break you. Don’t allow bad experiences and mistakes to bring fear into your life.”
Benellen Santos Camacho was the early graduate valedictorian with Mikeala Aldan San Nicolas as salutatorian. Coreen Jermaine T. Ramon and Asako Jobel Habal Camacho were the Governor’s Leadership and Principal’s awards recipients, respectively.
Hilaria Magdalena Santos Duenas (Mayor of Saipan Community Service); Jerry Diego Borja and Jessa Mae Flores Camacho (Scholastic Excellence); Travis Jude Norita Kaliga and Aurellia Tonianna Aguon Iguel (Semper Fidelis for Musical Excellence); Amanda Yollyn Smith Agulto and Andrew Paul Ayuman Paulino (Distinguished Athletes); Mikeala Aldan San Nicolas (Language Arts, Social Studies, and Physical Education) and Cassey Pangelinan Babauta (Science, Physical Education, and Japanese); Alexander Ughurengapi Litulumar (Mathematics); Elizabeth Britney Basa, Asako Camacho, and Karen Mae Delos Santos Laoyan (Social Studies); Fatimah Skylar Acosta Blake, and Audrey Rose Rechebei Camacho (Science); Peter Anthony Cabrera Santos (Physical Education); Laoyan, Blake, Asako Camacho, and Josepha Dela Cruz Cabrera (Japanese); Victor Juan Cabrera Castro and Ana Matsunaga Lieto (Culinary Arts); Aaron Peter Santos and Agnes Rose Miyuki DLG Mongami (COOP); Ramon and Victor Juan Castro (Computer Applications); and Florens Buekis and Kris Butters (JROTC) were the other recipients of the Community, Marine Corps, and Departmental Content Area awards.