The Northern Marianas Technical Institute conferred certificates to 74 graduates of seven courses in the first awards ceremony held for its students last Tuesday evening at the Garapan Central Park.
Students from the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 completed either courses in Automotive Technology, Culinary Arts, Hotel and Restaurant, Construction-Core, Construction-Electrical, Construction-HVAC, or Construction-Welding—with almost half of the percentage of graduates being women.
In attendance were keynote speaker Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan), who chairs the education committee in the CNMI House of Representatives; NMTech chief executive officer Jodina Attao, NMTech board of trustees members Irene Holl, Ana S. Mendiola, Zenn Tomokane, and Fr. James Balajadia, NMTech faculty, instructors, and staff, and family and friends of the graduates.
NMTech board of trustees chair Catherine Attao-Toves, who is off-island, spoke via video message. “You are becoming the inspiration and hope that our community industry leaders are looking for and creating waves of momentum in workforce development. …Congratulations. We’re so very proud of you. We wish you continued success and your next steps and in your new chapter.”
Staffler highlighted the importance of the trades industry in the CNMI, the apprenticeship program, and future of the CNMI workforce.
Angelo Viernes, 19-year-old culinary arts graduate and a cook at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, said he went into NMTech after graduating high school last year. His experience at NMTech was that he got “to bond with my group mates and.. bond with my chefs. I got to know more about different kinds of styles of cooking… I now know the true kitchen experience and I kind of like it because I like making good food…” He attributed his successes to his classmates and instructors at NMTech.
Kristin Basa, a 22-year-old Construction-Electrical graduate and Biomedical Equipment Technician apprentice at the Pacific Biomedical Services, said she feels “very accomplished with the graduation today and I’m excited for what…my future has in store. Like they said, trades is always needed, so I’m excited to get out there.” When asked how it felt that 44% of graduates were women, she said “I think it’s really great and it’s about time. …I think it’s good that…there’s more women in the trades now. …It’s the 21st century.”
NMTech is now accepting registration for spring 2023. Students who are interested in Automotive Technology, Culinary Arts, Hotel and Restaurant, Electrical Welding, HVAC, and Carpentry are encouraged to enroll by visiting NMTech in Lower Base or online at www.nmtechcnmi.org.