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NMC Rota, Tinian receive Public Entity Advocate of the Year awards

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Posted on Mar 04 2021
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From top left, CNMI University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the Northern Marianas College program manager Arlene Yamagata, NMC interim vice president for Learning and Student Success Charlotte Cepeda, NMC-UCEDD director Jennifer-Eilleen E. Castr, NMC acting president Dave Attao, Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc. program manager Grag Borja, NMC Rota Center Program director Diana Hocog, NMC Tinian Center executive director Maria Aguon, and NMC Rota IT Help Desk technician Robert Mendiola. From bottom left, UCEDD trainees Heejung Sin, Eloise Lopez, Ruth Torres, Tahani Mafnas, Victoria Matsunaga, and Mary Deala. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

The Tinian and Rota campuses of the Northern Marianas College were recognized as Champions of Equal Opportunity in the CNMI and were chosen as Public Entity Advocates of the Year by the CNMI Disability Network Partners last Tuesday, March 2, at the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.

Both campuses were acknowledged for being one of the most accessible buildings on their respective islands. 

DNP recognized that the two campuses have Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking spaces, restrooms, (touchless faucets, soap dispenses, towel dispensers in bathrooms), doors handles, etc. Their staff have also been very accommodating to individuals with disabilities, often allowing “Very Outspoken Individuals Can Each Succeed” (VOICES) and DNP agencies to use their facilities for meetings and training on both islands. Staff also make certain that guests comply with federal ADA regulations and standards. Rota is also currently working on increasing its accessibility. 

NMC interim president Frankie Eliptico said the college is thankful for the recognition and indicated that the institution aims to do more to enhance individuals’ abilities and to help them with their academic and professional journeys. 

Maria Aguon, executive director for the NMC Tinian Center, recently completed her certificate program as a UCEDD ambassador. 

Robert Mendiola, who works at NMC Rota, is also the president of the VOICES chapter on Rota.

Jennifer-Eilleen E. Castro, director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Awareness at NMC, said that UCEDD works with public and private partners “to celebrate the outstanding achievements and efforts of numerous individual and entities on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota who continue to pave the way toward making our Commonwealth more inclusive and accessible.”

Castro added that the collaboration that continues to be demonstrated by various disability stakeholders is what the team is most proud of. 

“Together, with dedicated service and teamwork, we can definitely achieve more. We ask that you continue to support UCEDD, DDC Council, [Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc.], Center for Living Independently, and several other partners as we work together to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the CNMI,” she said. 

Neil Fama
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