Wettest graduation in history

CMI Executive Vice President William Reiher with the CMI nursing program’s top graduate Alma Capelle. Photo: Wilmer Joel.


College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) 28th commencement exercise will go down in the record books as one the wettest graduations that solidifies our traditional belief that rain is a form of blessing from God.

The class of 2021 will also go down in history with a record-setting number of graduates in the college’s history, surpassing the goal of 15 percent graduation rate with 19 percent graduating last Friday.

Also for the first time ever the college recognized the graduates from every program offered at CMI including certificates of special education and certificate of completion in Marshallese Studies. Those who witnessed this event included President David Kabua, CMI President Dr. Irene Ta’afaki, Board of Regents Chair Kathryn Relang, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Elizabeth Switaj, Executive Vice President William Reiher, Vice President for Business and Administrative Affairs Stevenson Kotton, keynote speaker Mylast Bilimon, Rev. Clennter Leyrose, government leaders, traditional leaders, diplomatic corps, families, and friends.

“Graduates, I encourage you to not only dream, but dream audaciously because it is in our blood to do so,” said President Kabua to over 300 graduates. He also said “To live out your dream is to serve.”

Following his remarks, CMI President Dr. Ta’afaki stated: “Invest your talent and skill for the progress of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and service to its peoples.”

She also added to demonstrate what it truly means to be a CMI navigator, planning your journey in life, confident in the knowledge of who you are and where you are situated, and being fully aware of your ultimate destination.

The CMI valedictorian award resulted in a tie between Liberal Arts Program graduate Craig Worthleen Tingo Villa and Business Program graduate Alan Keoni Murphy. Alongside the two top students in their practical and respective fields was Alma Capelle, the highest in the Nursing Program, and Telita Kaneko, the highest in Bachelor of Arts Education.

All were recipients of CMI scholarship awards. Numerous awards were handed to these top students by MIDB, Sandy Alfred, EPA, and the President’s Office.

In Villa’s address he said: “We dreamt higher than where many thought the sky was and deeper where most thought the ocean ended. There is more to do, more to learn, and more to go to.” Then Murphy delivered his valedictory address by affirming, “Whatever you believe you can achieve, we are not born as failures. Failures can lead to success, but only if you learn from them.”

Afterwards the most distinguished address was delivered by Kaneko in which she said: “Education is a difficult path and will not be easy, we have to heed the advice from our elders and families, because there will be many challenges along the way. Education is not pursuing you, you are pursuing education.”

The 2021 Graduation gift to the college was offered as a song written and composed by Timothy Hermon Kabua and Carlton Gideon. Following the performances of this emotional rendition of the song, the conferral of diplomas, certificates, degrees, and nursing pins took place. Aside from the ceremonial program, the CMI Choir directed by Dan John Fax was absolutely outstanding. Despite some sound system hiccups, the talented voices by the students were alluring. A traditional dance by CMI likatus was also on point featuring some traditional ways of husking coconuts. Finally chanters Brian Jason and Francis Johnson held the audience spellbound and captivated with natural and traditional Marshallese Chants.


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