It’s not as if life was handed to Robert Jomar Malate on a silver platter.
Born a preemie, the colloquial term for premature, Malate’s mom had five miscarriages before finally having him, prompting her to call him her “miracle baby.”
“I’ve had five miscarriages before we had him in my mid-40s. When he was growing up, we thought he would have a hard time because he was premature when I gave birth to him. But he proved us wrong. He was a consistent honor student, always making us proud,” Malate’s mother, Maria Teresa, said.
An honor student from elementary to high school, Malate was this year’s valedictorian at Marianas High School. Adding more luster to his credentials, he has been accepted to Harvard University, where he plans to pursue mechanical engineering.
That makes him the third student in CNMI history to go on to Harvard and the first student from the Public School System to earn a spot at the prestigious university.
“I got my talent and skills from my parents,” said Malate.
Malate’s father, Roberto, is an engineer at the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., while his mother is an accountant.
“Growing up, I was curious about my dad’s job. When he explained what he does at CUC, I didn’t even know if it was true because he doesn’t really use his advanced calculator but his answers were on point. My interest in engineering grew from there,” Malate said.
Last June 7, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce chose him as one of its scholarship awardees. The scholarship was announced at the Chamber’s meeting at the Royal Taga Hall of the Saipan World Resort.
Carlyn Sablan, a member of the Chamber’s Education Committee, cited Malate’s accomplishments at the awarding. “He was president of the National Speech and Debate Association for three years, was captain of his mock trial team and president of the National Honor Society during his junior and senior years. He received a full scholarship to attend the Junior Statesmen of America summer program at Princeton University in 2015, where he served as debate moderator and was voted by his peers as a motivational speaker.”
Malate’s journey to Harvard is not going to be an inexpensive one and the chance to take part in the Chamber’s program proved attractive.
“When I learned that the SCC was accepting applications for their scholarship program, I immediately thought that I have to apply because the grant will greatly help with my education and it had the criteria that I was looking for in a scholarship. I don’t want opportunities like this to fly by.”
Malate’s ultimate dream is to establish an institute in the CNMI to teach physics and chemistry.
“I pray for God’ s guidance for the next four years of my college. After school, I plan to gain experience and see what the world has to offer. I will make the best of the opportunities and resources that I can amass and use them when I come back to CNMI.” Malate said.