CMI honors first in family

CMI President Dr. Irene Taafaki, left, joined with a number of the First Generation graduates and CMI staff at the recognition ceremony. Photo: Wilmer Joel.


In honor of college students who were the first ones to graduate from their families, the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) organized the first ever First-Generation College Celebration last week at the College’s courtyard.

CMI’s event followed in the footsteps of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and NAPSA’s Center for First-Generation Student Success who launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration in 2017. After this initiation, institutions, corporations, non-profits, and K-12 schools have recognized students, faculty, staff, and alumni who were the first ones to graduate college from their families and highlighted important contributions made within their communities.

Those in attendance for this college celebration program were CMI students and faculty alongside Upward Bound (UB) students and staff. Emceeing the program was CMI Library Director Verenaisi Bavadra joined by the guest speakers who were the college’s dignitaries including CMI President Dr. Irene Taafaki, Executive Vice-President William Reiher, Vice-President for Business and Administrative Affairs Stevenson Kotton, CMI’s Chaplin Clenneter Leyrsose, UB Director John Zedkaia, and UB Counselor Pam Kaious.

Each of these speakers shared their distinctive experience about the struggles and hard work they went through before becoming the first college graduate from their families. “Sixty percent of our students are first generation,” said President Taafaki during her address. “Getting a college education helps us understand the reality of the world and brings people together.”

VP Kotton added to the testament of her statement by sharing his experience to make it to the top. “My professor told me that there is no such thing as an easy life,” he said. “Write your own story of your life and start from within.”

UB Director Zedkaia rounded things off with his remark by stating, “We gotta make sacrifices if we want to succeed.”


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