• Mobil Smiles Reward

‘Reserve judgment rather than make accusations’

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I am writing this letter in response to a wave of negative social media attention in the wake of the governor’s decision to replace me as director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. OVR is a vital governmental agency that provides much-needed services to people with disabilities in the CNMI. My time at OVR was not limited to the time I was appointed to the position of director. Before my last post, I proudly worked there as a VR counselor. When I served as director, OVR provided more services to more clients/consumers than it had under any previous administration. I firmly believe this is due to the strict adherence to a policy that places clients of OVR first. The personnel of OVR have worked very hard in the last two years to extend vocational opportunities to those who may not have had opportunities in the past.

Hard work can sometimes lead to tensions in the workplace. This is true of every work environment. When a person seeks to achieve goals never reached by an agency before, sometimes the most extraordinary obstacles come from within the organization. There is a resistance to change. There is a collective attitude best defined by the expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When asked to change, to improve what may not be broken, the organization itself places obstacles in our path. These were the obstacles I failed to overcome in my time as director.

The mission of the OVR was more important to me than any appointed position at the agency. I fervently hope recent decisions do not impact OVR’s mission, and that it will continue to serve the people of the CNMI efficiently even after my departure. I know the governor and the hardworking staff of OVR have the best interests of the people in their hearts, as should we all.

Typically, I would not write a letter to the editor to be replaced in a political position. I am doing this to acknowledge the opportunity given, the time and effort put into the many projects I managed, and I do wish to move on from this chapter in my life.

All those who agree to take political appointments recognize the position is about service and is at the pleasure of the appointing authority. Dismissal from an appointed position does not, or at least should not, reflect negatively on an individual’s performance. A thank you for the opportunity is all that is required. I do thank the governor for that opportunity.

However, this letter’s primary purpose is to express how hurt and emotionally drained I am by those who have been attacking my family and me via social media. Cyberbullying is a pervasive form of harming people, and it does not discriminate by any category. In today’s age of social media bullying, it is not uncommon for the least-informed person to form an opinion and state it as fact. These comments and the unfounded claims are shared without regard to the harm they can cause.

Views of people who already comprehend the subject matter are not usually changed by these messages, only reinforced. Those that are unfamiliar with me and what I have accomplished, however, can be unfairly swayed.

We have all observed our humanity’s attack by the increased use of anonymous and detached social media sharing, unattached to facts or context. It wasn’t until they directed the medium’s power my way that I fully appreciated how dangerous and callous social media attacks could be.

I would ask that we take time to reserve judgment rather than making accusations. Please take time to acknowledge how hurtful our careless comments can be—as this situation can happen to anyone. It is larger than me. I advise everyone, especially those who are younger and ridiculed on social media, please reach out to the Community Guidance Center, a parent, or someone trusted and seek assistance.

I will always be proud of my significant and groundbreaking achievements at OVR. It is a vital organization that requires not only the right background and education, but also your heart and soul. Further, I am and have always been committed to bettering the lives of the people of the CNMI, as I too love this community and everything that makes our islands great.

Thank you for providing a platform to share my perspective in this matter. I wholeheartedly look forward to my next juncture; one that offers a chance to use my background, skillsets, and experience to contribute to our unique and diverse community.

Maryann Borja-Arriola
via email

Maryann Borja-Arriola
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