Class of 2021 turns their tassels under fireworks at Paseo
The University of Guam conferred degrees to 383 graduates at its Fañomnåkan Commencement Ceremony on Sunday. The number marks the university’s largest graduating class in history and includes another record — 40% of students graduating with honors.
The ceremony, held at Paseo Stadium in Hagåtña, was the first in-person commencement that the university has held since December 2019.
Of 333 bachelor’s degrees conferred, the highest numbers were in business administration, criminal justice, nursing, and social work. The criminal justice graduates include 21 graduates from Saipan, who are the first Northern Marianas College students to complete a four-year degree in criminal justice following an NMC-UOG partnership program launched in 2019.
Of 50 master’s degree conferred, the majority were Master of Public Administration degrees followed by Master of Teaching and Master of Education degrees.
“This class of graduates of the University of Guam has been resilient and flexible and supportive in the spirit of our CHamoru values of chenchule’ and inafa’maolek,” said UOG President Thomas W. Krise in his remarks. “I am proud of your academic achievements and even prouder of your character. Take what you’ve learned with us and help make the world better for us all.”
Delivering the keynote address was Gener F. Deliquina, CEO of Coast360 Federal Credit Union and a UOG Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Having earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Guam in 1992, he has since built a solid career in Guam’s financial industry while working to enrich the community through civic leadership and corporate sponsorship of various nonprofits and community organizations.
“I started my journey as a Triton 34 years ago,” Deliquina said. “[…] However, as a student, I did not experience a worldwide pandemic that shut down the world literally overnight. I’m sure that the temptation to digress from your studies was hard to resist, and I would like to applaud you for your resilience, especially during this pandemic time.”
He encouraged the graduates to actively nurture their relationships with the mentors who brought them to this point, to be prepared for opportunities through continued training, education, and experience, and to be proud of their local education and cultural roots.
The graduates also heard from Class of 2021 Valedictorian Reggie Mae O. Dionisio, who is graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing. She attended UOG on the government of Guam’s Merit Scholarship, having been salutatorian at George Washington High School in 2016.
She recalled her journey through nursing school, in which she gradually overcame nerves every step of the way — starting with properly making a patient’s bed to now being about to insert an IV and provide specific care for patients following different medical procedures.
“I had a lot of memories […] where I’d feel anxious, doubtful, and helpless,” Dionisio told her fellow graduates. “But here I am, speaking in front of you all today. Despite how hard the challenges were, I realize that not a day goes by where I regret feeling the anxiety and doubt. Because every emotion, whether good or bad, is part of the journey.”
As a student nurse, Dionisio provided nursing care in various units of Guam Memorial Hospital and also provided immunizations, telehealth nursing care, and psychiatric nursing care with the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, and the Guma Asusena and Guma Serenidad homes. She was also licensed with an emergency temporary work permit last July to work as a licensed practical nurse and assist with the pandemic response.
She ended her speech with a saying often used in the nursing school: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
Photos of each graduate will also be available soon at www.flickr.com/photos/uogtritons/albums.