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Congressman Faleomavaega to Speak At ASCC Spring 2013

Congressman Faleomavaega to Speak At ASCC Spring 2013 Commencement

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Admissions & Records/Financial Aid Office estimates that approximately 123 students will receive their degrees and certificates during the College’s 58th Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for Friday, May 17th, at 10 a.m. in the ASCC Gymnasium. This semester ASCC takes great honor to once again welcome Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin as keynote speaker. Faleomavaega had been scheduled to give the keynote address during the ASCC fall 2012 commencement, but when Cyclone Evan made it necessary for the College to re-schedule the event, the Congressman was unable to attend due to prior commitments. With Faleomavaega’s participation last semester preempted by unforeseen circumstances, the College took the opportunity to invite him back this semester, and he has accepted the invitation. In addition to the Congressman, Governor Lolo Moliga has also been invited to participate in the ceremony. “We look greatly forward to Lolo joining us for the first time as Governor”, said ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i. “Being part of the first ASCC class addressed by Lolo in his new role as leader of American Samoa will make this a very special occasion for our graduates.”

Re-elected to his 13th term this past November, Congressman Faleomavaega holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Samoan in the U.S. Congress, as well as the only Samoan active within Congress until the election last year of Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard. Born in Vailoatai, American Samoa, Congressman Faleomavaega holds a Master of Law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston Law School.  He also holds a BA degree in Political Science and History from Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah and an AA degree from Brigham Young University at Laie, Hawaii.

Faleomavaega served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, as well as in the Army Reserve as a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.  He was also a proud member of the 100 Battalion 442 Infantry Reserve Unit, Honolulu, Hawaii. Faleomavaega entered the political scene as Staff Counsel to the late Congressman Phillip Burton of California, who was then chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Insular Affairs.  He also served as Chief of Staff for Paramount Chief A.U. Fuimaono, American Samoa’s first elected Representative to Washington, DC, from 1973 to 1975. His long record of service to American Samoa began with a stint as Deputy Attorney General from 1981 to 1984, after which he became Lieutenant Governor for American Samoa from 1985 to 1988. He holds the traditional Samoan chieftain title “Faleomavaega” of the Faiivae family in Leone, and is married to Hinanui Bambridge Cave of Tahiti, with whom he has five children and five grandchildren.

Since being elected to Congress in 1989, in addition to working in the interests of American Samoa’s people, Faleomavaega has distinguished himself as a member if not the leader of numerous Washington committees. Today he is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources.  He is the first Asian Pacific American ever to Chair the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and now serves as Ranking Member. Faleomavaega is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere which has oversight and jurisdiction over countries including Central and South America and Canada. On the Natural Resources Committee, Faleomavaega serves on the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

Faleomavaega has shared his insights from his years in public office in his book “Navigating the Future: A Samoan Perspective in U.S.-Pacific Relations”.  The 1995 publication “outlines ways in which relations between the United States and the Pacific can be improved to mutual advantage and calls for deeper understanding of the exceedingly diverse cultures and socio-political systems of this vast region,” according to Professor Ron Crocombe of The Institute of Pacific Studies. Faleomavaega took a significant break from politics to serve as a crew member on the renowned Hawaiian-Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule’a when it sailed from Tahiti to Hawaii in 1987. “Faleomavaega has joined us on several previous occasions as keynote speaker,” said Dr. Le’i, “and each time his speeches have been thoroughly different and never less than engaging.”

The minister for the occasion will be Reverend Atina’e Sheck of the CCCAS Petesa Uta Church. Along with the conferring of regular ASCC degrees and certificates, students Amber Fuaga and Tupou Sia are set to graduate with their Bachelor of Education degrees in Elementary Education. With five students having received their B Ed degrees over the previous two semesters, Fuaga and Sia will bring the total number of graduates from the ASCC four-year Teacher Education program to seven. A further anticipated highlight of each commencement is the announcement of the recipients of American Samoa Government scholarship and loan awards, which will be presented for the first time by Reverend Kalepo Vaitautolo, the new Chairman of the ASG Student Financial Aid Board.

ENDS

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