Bill would allow merit award recipients to attend GCC before UOG

High school merit award recipients now have the choice of using their scholarship money to take freshman and sophomore-level courses at the Guam Community College, and then transferring to UOG to complete their bachelors degrees.

Bill 148-34, introduced by Senator Louise Muña, was unanimously passed by the 34th Guam Legislature on Oct. 24 during its regular afternoon session.

“The rationale behind the bill is that GCC has course offerings that some students would want to avail themselves of,” said Peter Leon Guerrero, Muña’s chief of staff.

Prior to the introduction of this bill, merit scholarships could be used only at the University of Guam. Under certain circumstances, off-island colleges are also an option.

The merit scholarship is given to the highest academically achieving graduates of public, private, and DODEA high schools, covering tuition and other fees and stipends.

Because the scholarship is usable for four years, students will split the first two years at GCC and the last two years at UOG.

Several GCC students and representatives of the administrations of both GCC and UOG, attended the public hearing that was held on Bill 148-34 and testified in favor of it.

At the hearing, representatives of UOG expressed the importance of completing the requirements to be able to move on to UOG within the two-year period.

“GCC said that, yes, they will work closely with the student and monitor them and make sure that they complete whatever they have to complete before they have to move on within that 2 years,” Muña said.

Former GCC student and current UOG graduating senior Woodward Castro is happy with the new prospect for merit scholar recipients.

“I think it’s a good idea, knowing that GCC has a lot to offer students,” Castro said. “I feel I benefitted from the courses I took there.”

While the bill was unanimously supported, some senators had concerns.

Senator James V. Espaldon made an amendment to the bill explicitly ensuring that merit award recipients are made fully aware of the strict timeline for the completion of all requirements necessary to graduate.

Senator Telena Nelson reflected on her previous teaching experiences and expressed that individuals learn differently and not all students are able to finish their bachelors degree program in four years.

Leon Guerrero, Muna’s chief of staff said: “Students must be aware that the courses they take at GCC must be transferrable to UOG. What the bill should serve to do is further strengthen the coordination between the two institutions to ensure that certain courses will articulate into UOG.”

However, Muña is confident that the values of responsibility and dedication it takes to become a valedictorian or salutatorian will continue to be upheld throughout the students’ college career.

Senator Muña believes that this new bill will fortify the relationship between GCC and UOG.

As a GCC alumna, Muña says she is proud of this new accomplishment of GCC and hopes the bill will provide merit recipients with benefits.

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