High school graduates of American Samoan ancestry automatically qualify for the Pell Grant, which covers most if not all of the cost of them earning a Bachelors degree in college. However, students born outside of the US and its territories often face a tremendous financial burden furthering their education after high school because U.S. colleges usually charge higher tuition to those who do not meet residency requirements. To assist students that face this challenge, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) makes available two in-house scholarships each semester, the Saili le Atamai and Presidential Merit scholarships.
Funded by the Student Government Association and intended for students who do not qualify for any form of federal aid, criteria for the Saili le Atamai Scholarship includes maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00, having already completed at least 12 credits or more, attending ASCC full-time, and being committed towards earning a specific Associate Degree or Certificate of Proficiency. The ASCC Division of Student Services has announced the recipients of the spring 2019 Saili le Atamai Scholarship as Mr. Mark Espiritu and Ms. Shiting Huang.
Born in the Philippines, Mr. Espiritu graduated from Faasao/Marist High School in 2017. A Nursing major, he has relied primarily on off-campus employment to pay his tuition. He also applied and was selected for the Saili le Atamai Scholarship in fall 2018. “I have made the most out of the scholarship,” said Espiritu. “It helped me not only financially, but also academically because I did not have to focus as much on earning money for school.” Ms. Huang, born in China, attended high school in Hong Kong. A Liberal Arts major, she also volunteers as a Math tutor and says she hopes to join the ASCC chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society.
The Presidential Merit Scholarship of $500 is open for application by all ASCC students regardless of their qualification for the Pell grant. Applicants must have completed 24 credits and maintained a grade point average of 3.60 or higher. This semester the Presidential Merit Scholarships will go to Ms. Shiqi Huang and Ms. Elisapeta Sagote. The twin sister of Saili le Atamai Scholarship recipient Shiting Huang, Shiqi also majors in Liberal Arts, has earned the highest GPA (3.79) of this semester’s in-house scholarship recipients, and holds a work-study position with the ASCC Finance Office. “A wise man once said, ‘Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value’”, said Shiqui. “Likewise, I strive to learn as much as I can to better serve my community and the future of American Samoa.” The second Presidential Merit Scholarship recipient, Ms. Elisapeta Sagote, graduated from Marist-Faasao in 2017, has become a member of the PTK Honor Society at ASCC, and credits her love of learning to her church activities. “Being a Catechist’s daughter allowed me to enhance my knowledge,” she recalled. An active leader of her church youth, Ms. Sagote brings the same enthusiasm to the help she gives other students as a member of the PTK. “I choose to lead others in most faithful and honest way possible,” she said.
ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i spoke proudly of this semester’s In-House Scholarship recipients, and recommended that all students in financial need learn more about the College’s In-House Scholarships. “Any students who are serious about their education should not let issues of nationality or funding keep them at a disadvantage,” she said. “It’s fortunate that ASCC can provide some assistance to financially challenged students with a sincere dedication to succeeding in their education. I believe that in the long run, helping these individuals ensures that the diversity of American Samoa remains one of its advantages.”
For more information on ASCC and its available scholarships, visit the College’s web page at www.amsamoa.edu.