PRESS RELEASE - December 9, 2016

Tualauta district Representative Samuel Meleisea, ASCC 65th Commencement Speaker
Newley-elected Tualauta district Representative Samuel Meleisea will be the keynote speaker at the ASCC Fall 2016 Commencement this Friday at 10 a.m. Meleisea is an ASCC alumnus who has also spent many years working for the National Park of American Samoa. (Courtesy Photo)

ASCC 65th Commencement to Take Place on December 16th

December 9, 2016

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

The fall 2016 Commencement Ceremony at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will take place this Friday, December 16th, beginning at 10 a.m. in the College’s Gymnasium. Pending final exam results, 141 students are scheduled to graduate with their degrees and certificates during the 65th Commencement in the College’s history. Honorable Governor Lolo M. Moliga, the Board of Higher Education, and other dignitaries have been invited to join the ASCC community for this special occasion, and the keynote speaker will be Samuel “Sam” Ioka Ale Meleisea, an ASCC alumnus recently elected to the House of Representatives by the constituents of the Tualauta district.

The son of Mr. Peniamina Meleisea and Mrs. Fa’auliuli Meleisea, Samuel has roots in the villages of Ili’ili and Fitiuta in American Samoa, and Afega and Poutasi in the Independent State of Samoa. He attended Tafuna High School, followed by ASCC, where he graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in General Agriculture in 2011. Continuing on to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Meleisea completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Tropical Plant Science and Agroecology in 2013. Concurrent with his college career, for the last five years Meleisea has worked for the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) as a Park Ranger in both Tutuila and Manu’a, and currently serves as a Rainforest Bio-Technician for the NPSA Rainforest Program.

A first-time contender for one of two Fono seats representing the Tualauta district, Meleisea has stated that he could not at first believe it when the election results showed that he had garnered the most votes among the eight district candidates, bringing in 978 votes.  “I am 25 years old since March 2016,” he stated. “There are those who are saying that I might be the youngest representative in Fono history. But I have to say that I didn't run to break any records, but to help break down barriers for Tualauta district, our youth, and for American Samoa. I am very honored and humbled by Tualauta district's vote of confidence.”

Meleisea made a special acknowledgement of the turnout of Tualauta youth to vote this year. “The youth are disenfranchised or disconnected with the political process because they don't see any benefit for them,” he reflected. “I hope to be their representative for Tualauta district and across American Samoa. I know that there are those who say that I am too young or that youthful vigor will not blend well with the more traditional sense of the Fono. I am filled with respect and pride for our traditions, and I am not going to the Fono to challenge our traditions. However, I have been elected to provide a fresh perspective and voice.”

ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i expressed pride in Meleisea’s successful bid for office, and her appreciation for his returning to the College to inspire this semester’s graduates. “Samuel’s accomplishment stands as a shining example of what our young people can do given the right intention and the determination to try their best,” she said. “We look forward with great anticipation to Representative Meleisea sharing his thoughts with our graduating class and the rest of the ASCC community.”

For more information on the 65th ASCC Commencement Ceremony, contact the Division of Student Services by calling 699-9155 and asking for extension 376.