PRESS RELEASE - MAY 1, 2015

College Signing Day
ISeniors from American Samoa’s high schools pack the ASCC Lecture Hall for College Signing Day, which took place on Friday, May 1st, 2015.

High School Seniors and Parents Celebrate College Signing Day at ASCC

May 1, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

All high schools seniors in American Samoa who are committed to attending college either here in the Territory or off-island after graduation were invited to participate in College Signing Day on Friday, May 1st, in the ASCC Lecture Hall. Parents of the high school seniors also joined their sons and daughters as they affirmed their commitment to seek higher education.

College Signing Day was initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama, who on May 1st, 2014 established the “Reach Higher” program to inspire every student across the country to pursue and complete a postsecondary degree, whether at a traditional four-year college, a two-year community college, or through an industry-recognized training program. As a result, community leaders, schools, celebrities, and nonprofit and advocacy groups across the USA were encouraged to host a “Reach Higher College Signing Day” event to support students planning to attend and graduate from college.

As the American Samoa host of College Signing Day this year, ASCC invited interested students from all of Tutuila’s public and private high schools and their parents to participate in this significant occasion. “We put out the invitation to everyone involved to join us in celebrating all the students in our community who are making a commitment to complete their education beyond high school,” said Mr. Peteru Lam Yuen of the Financial Aid Office, the ASCC division that organized the event.

The hour-long ceremony included welcoming remarks from ASCC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle, as well as student testimonials from members of campus organizations such as the Nursing Department, Teacher Education, and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Business Department, the Student Government Association (SGA) and Samoan Studies. ASCC fall 2014 graduate and recipient of the New Century Scholarship Miss Mona Chang also shared her college experiences. A variety of entertainment was performed by the Fine Arts Department, the SGA, and the Student Association for Faasamoa. Along with signing a certificate of their commitment to postsecondary education, each of the students present joined in the official Reach Higher Pledge: “I believe in my future and myself. I commit to enroll in college. I commit to persevere when I get there. I commit to graduate. And no matter what, I commit to always reach higher for myself, my family, and for my community.”

Before and after the ceremony, participating students had the opportunity to visit a number of tables outside the Lecture Hall to learn about assistance available at ASCC with college admission or applying for financial aid online, or to discover the many programs offered at ASCC. “As part of College Signing Day, and now as well, we stand ready to provide the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition for our high school senior students to further their education, whether they choose to attend ASCC or any other college campus in the country,” reiterated Mr. Lam Yuen.

The United States once led the world in the number of college graduates, but is now ranked 12th. In order to achieve President Barrack Obama’s North Star goal – that by 2020 the U.S. will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates – Reach Higher, launched by First Lady Michele Obama, focuses on four components: college affordability, exposing students to college, academic and summer planning, and supporting school counselors. As a component of Reach Higher, College Signing Day takes the message directly to high school seniors that their achievement of higher education is also an achievement for America as a whole. “These events offer a unique opportunity celebrate graduating seniors, showcase our student leaders, and inspire more young people to take the first steps on their journey to higher education,” said the First Lady in a statement to participating institutions across the nation.

For more information on Reach Higher, visit the program’s official web page at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/reach-higher.