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Higher education looking good for Guam

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's more evident than ever that local residents are seeking a higher education as both the University of Guam and the Guam Community College have hit record high enrollment. GCC president Mary Okada recently addressed the "State of Higher Education on Guam and The Pacific: GCC's Role in Developing Today's Workforce" to the Association of Government Accountants.

GCC's enrollment has increased 38% in the last five years, and according to Okada, the record high enrollment means one thing: more residents are realizing the benefits of pursuing higher educations, especially at a time when employers are looking to hire local and there will be a more job competitive market with the anticipated military buildup.

She said, "One of the things we do is we go out to industry representatives and have discussions with them as to what the workforce is looking for what are the skills that are necessary, and we try to ensure that the college helps to support industry requests."

Okada says GCC's biggest obstacle has been funding, but believes this can be overcome with creative accounting. The school's new Learning Resource Center took five different means of funding and is now the Government of Guam's first leadership in energy and environmental design certified building. Okada admits that her secret to successful grant writing has been the usage of buzz words, including renewable energy and recycling.

Okada also says the college has had a decade of clean audits and hopes the island's accountants will keep accountability and transparency close to their hearts. "Even though we have funding issues, whether it be at DOE, GCC, or any other government, you still have to be responsible for the money you get - accountability and transparency," she noted.

"If I give you a dollar, you better used that dollar based on what I gave it to you for."

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