The Soroptimist International Club NMI Chapter is on its 5th year of running the Live Your Dream Award in the NMI. This is open to all women who are considered head of their families and are enrolled in secondary school.
A cash prize of $3,000 will be awarded that will help the recipient improve her education, skills and employment prospects.
According to Soroptimist NMI Chapter Way and Means chair Pam Brown, who also co-chairs this year’s Live Your Dream Award, 14 women have submitted their applications and their stories are now being reviewed.
“The turnout this year is bigger than last year,” she said.
There were nine applications for the award program in 2017 and 14 for this year.
Brown attributes this to the club’s work with the Northern Marianas College and Northern Marianas Trade Institute. “We send out the information to their Student Affairs Office and they send out an email blast to the women students with all the information,” she said.
To qualify, women applicants must be the head of the family and is currently enrolled in a secondary school.
Brown said the applicants does not need to be a U.S. citizen to join. Women who are enrolled in an online school are also qualified.
There is no age requirement “because we want to open the opportunity to many women,” Brown added.
The award prize of $3,000 will go to the recipient to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education, such as books, childcare, tuition, and transportation.
“The award comes with absolutely no strings attached so they can spend it on anything that they need to spend it on to make their lives better. We always give out at least $3,000 and if we have more money we can give out more,” Brown said.
“What is really nice is, internationally, we give out hundreds of millions of dollars so it’s such a big impact that we totally support the idea that when you educate a woman, you change the community. The education of women and girls is our main focus,” she added.
Last Saturday, the applications were reviewed by the judges composed of Laurie Ogumorro of Karidat Social Services, Sue Satur of the CNMI Center for Living Independently, Maisie Tenorio of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and 2016 Live Your Dream awardee, Rachel Ashley Reyes.
“We are lucky to have this roster of judges who run non-profit organizations to help us this year. Another special thing is one of the judges, Reyes, was a prior recipient of the award and she will be joining the club too,” Brown said.
“There are a lot of memorable stories that the women who joined this year shared with us. It’s really hard because they all bright young women, all of them are professional, that’s why we have judges that are not members of the club so that they can be impartial,” Brown added.
Brown said that Soroptimist NMI Chapter believes in second chances, that’s why they accommodate repeat applications as long as the women meet the requirements.
“We accommodate repeaters and we actually have one applicant from last year and she is applying again. I think any working mother or woman will always have a reason for more money, especially if you’re the head of a family or still a student,” she added.
The Live Your Dream Gala where the winning entry shall be announced will be on Oct. 20, Saturday, at 5:30pm at the Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan. Tickets sell at $50 inclusive of food, wine or beer. A ticket helps the Soroptomist NMI Chapter build the funds for next year’s award. For more information, call (670) 234-9480.