The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) counts among its student body a number of individuals born outside of American Samoa or elsewhere in the United States. The majority of these students come from the Independent State of Samoa, but ASCC also serves young men and women from Asian countries such as the Philippines and China, and our Pacific neighbors such as Fiji and Tonga. As determined as these students who originate from outside the Territory are to further their education, they still face the challenges of, first, not having access to the Pell Grant funding available to students born in American Samoa or the USA, and second, being subject to a higher tuition rate.
With the aim of providing assistance to the most motivated of these students from outside the Territory or the USA, ASCC makes available two in-house scholarships each spring and fall semester. The SGA (Student Government Association) Saili le Atamai Scholarship specifically serves only those without access to the Pell Grant, while the Presidential Merit Scholarship is open to all ASCC students, be they Pell-qualified or otherwise. Applicants for the SGA Scholarship must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, while the required GPA for the Presidential Merit Scholarship is 3.60. Other criteria, such as the completion of certain courses, also apply. The ASCC Division of Student Services, which administers the in-house scholarships, has announced the four recipients for the current spring 2021. Selected for the Presidential Merit Scholarship are Ms. Merenita Setu and Mr. Paul Hans Leban. Awarded the SGA Saili le Atamai Scholarship are Ms. Jean Paula Eseo and Ms. Precious Tavete.
Ms. Setu, 19, was born in Motootua, Samoa and raised in American Samoa. She graduated from Tafuna High School in 2019 and since then has been working part time to cover her college expenses. Ms. Setu also belongs to the student club Business Ambassadors of ASCC (BAOA), which she says has increased her experience in community service and interaction with her peers. Mr. Leban, 18, was born in the Philippines and is a 2000 graduate of Marist Fa’asao High School. A Computer Science major, Mr. Leban aims to become a specialist in the field and hopes to someday make an impact on the computer industry.
Ms. Eseo, 22, is originally from the Philippines and attended high school at South Pacific Academy, where she graduated in 2017. Currently pursuing a Nursing degree at ASCC, Ms. Eseo has maintained community involvement by volunteering at both Hope House and LBJ Hospital as a Certified Nurses Aide, and also as a Rotary Club member. Ms. Tavete, 21, is a Samoan born in Auckland, New Zealand, where she graduated from Macleans College in 2017. Since arriving in American Samoa, she has gained experience working as a Teacher Aide and Physical Education instructor for grades K3-5th at Samoa Baptist Academy. While her studies are her main focus, she occasionally enjoys playing netball, an activity which she says has helped her improve at teamwork, quick problem solving and efficient decision making.
“While the primary determining factor in choosing the in-house scholarship recipients is academic performance, we also take into consideration recent community service and whether an applicant has a long-term goal to do something that benefits American Samoa,” said ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i. “The students who have to work a little harder to get somewhere are often the ones who develop a vision of improving the quality of life for everyone, and this is one of the factors that makes it worthwhile for ASCC to make available this assistance for our academically gifted but financially challenged students from overseas. I congratulate our four recipients for spring 2021, and I encourage any students in similar circumstances to consider applying for our Presidential Merit or SGA Saili le Atamai scholarships.”
For more information on the ASCC in-house scholarships, contact the ASCC Division of Student Services or see the ASCC Catalog available online at www.amsamoa.edu.