2015 Governor's Humanities Awardees

Board and staff of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council joined Acting Governor Ralph DLG Torres in a special ceremony on 30 October to recognize the 2015 Governor's Humanities Awardees.

This is an annual Council program that recognizes outstanding contributions in the humanities.

This year's winners are:


Dr. Jessica Jordan

Research and Publication in the Humanities


Dr. Jessica Jordan was born and raised on Saipan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts and a PhD from the University of California, San Diego, and currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburg.  Dr. Jordan is being recognized for her doctoral dissertation completed in 2015 at the University of California, San Diego, titled “Islands Too Beautiful for Their Names: Local Memories and Japanese Colonial Rule in the Northern Mariana Islands.”  Dr. Jordan’s research, which relied heavily on oral histories related by elderly indigenous residents, assesses islanders’ memories of everyday life during conditions of colonialism and war toward challenging dominant nationalized discourses about NMI history.  Her research notes the tendency of interpreting Japanese colonialism through narratives that conflate Japanese colonialism with war and ignore the historical and ongoing relevance of the pre-war years of colonial rule.  Although islanders were given limited opportunities, some individuals excelled in Japanese schools and attained prestigious or high paying jobs after graduation.  This research provides a new narrative about the period of Japanese colonial rule of the Northern Mariana Islands which allows indigenous voices to be heard.


David M. Sablan

Preservation of CNMI History


David M. Sablan is a well-known and pioneering businessman in the Northern Mariana Islands who has been involved in some of the most important commercial undertakings over a sixty-year period.  Mr. Sablan is being recognized for his recently published book “A Degree of Success through Curiosity.”  The book documents Mr. Sablan’s life from his birth on Saipan in the 1930s during the Japanese administration until the present time. The book provides a wide range of information on the social, political and economic history of the NMI over an 80 year period, particularly with respect to the post-war economic development on Saipan.  The book also includes revealing portraits of pre-war life, the trials and tribulations of the war years, and the challenges and opportunities that came with the American occupation of the islands in 1944.  It is a history told from a local eye-witness perspective and undoubtedly will inspire others in the community to either share their own stories or to undertake research exploring a wide range of topics associated with the post-World War II history of the Northern Mariana Islands.


Outstanding Humanities Teacher

Geraldine S. Dela Curz


Geraldine S. Dela Cruz was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a longtime resident of Rota.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Guam. Over a 40-year career as an educator Ms. Dela Cruz has taught Kindergarten through 12th grades at schools in the NMI and the U.S. mainland.  Ms. Dela Cruz currently serves as a Title 1 Tutor for the CNMI Public School System, a capacity in which she works to improve students’ reading and math skills.  Ms. Dela Cruz is being recognized for her significant contributions to the promotion of family literacy as evidenced by her fifteen-year involvement as a volunteer certified Parent-Trainer in the Motheread Program. Ms. Dela Cruz has facilitated countless Motheread/Fatheread classes at Sinapalo Elementary School, Rota Head Start, Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja Elementary School and her own home.  Additionally, has also facilitated Teacheread and Storysharing sessions for adults and children respectively.  Through these volunteer efforts, Ms. Dela Cruz has made and continues to make a substantial contribution to increasing literacy, reading, and critical thinking skills among people of all ages in the Northern Mariana Islands.


Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities

Samuel F. McPhetres


Samuel F. McPhetres is a retired educator and longtime resident of the CNMI.  He earned a BA in Political Science and a Master of Arts in International Relations.  Mr. McPhetres has been associated with the Pacific region since 1970 when he served as a Peace Corps district director in Chuuk. In 1973, he joined the staff of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) and was instrumental in documenting the history of the TTPI during the 1970s and 80s as the bureau chief of the Micronesian News Service and editor of the Micronesian Reporter.  As archivist in the years immediately prior to the closure of the TTPI government, he headed an effort to microfilm tens of thousands of pages of government documents and photographs to ensure that these important materials would be preserved for future public use. The TTPI collection that resulted from Mr. McPhetres efforts is now housed at the University of Hawaii thus making an important part of the post-war history of Micronesia available for students, teachers, and researchers. More recently, Mr. McPhetres served on the faculty of the Northern Marinas College.  In that position, he was able to pass on to several generations of students the political and social history of the CNMI.  Through his efforts, he insured that students understood and were able to get involved with the pressing issues of the Commonwealth.  Currently Mr. McPhetres is working to organize and digitize his own large collection of historical papers and photos so that this important resource will be readily available for public use.


2015 Humanities Awardees.  Front row from left: Ann Jordan accepting for Dr. Jessica Jordan, Geraldine S. Dela Cruz, Samuel F. McPhetres, David M. Sablan and Joann T. Aquino (former Council board member).  Acting Governor Ralph DLG Torres is immediately behind Mr. McPheters.  Second from from left: Board members Tracy M. Guerrero, Vice Chair Frankie Eliptico, Michael A. White, Chair Robert H. Hunter, and Don Farrell.



Download a listing of past awardees.