Congresswoman Amata Awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Guam for Pacific Policy Work
Washington, D.C. – Saturday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata was presented with a doctorate of laws by the University of Guam, and gave remarks at the commencement exercises centered on her work in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Amata speaking at the University of Guam ceremony.
“My prayer, like the Psalmist, is that God would ‘establish the work of our hands’ so that our voices – the people of American Samoa and other island Territories – are heard in the halls of Congress,” said Aumua Amata in her graduation remarks. “As a woman from a culture that hasn’t traditionally elevated women to leadership, my story is one of persistence. Every time I stand before the next generation I’m filled with optimism. The future is bright and I know you will come together and do wonderful things in the years ahead. I’d humbly encourage you to persist. Persist, and doors will open before you that you never anticipated.”
Dr. Underwood presenting the doctorate to Congresswoman Amata.
The University of Guam presented Congresswoman Amata with a Doctorate of Laws based on her policy work on behalf of the Island Territories and the Pacific region. The University of Guam is the Congresswoman’s alma mater, and she is the only Member of Congress among their group of Distinguished Alumni. Her remarks to the graduates and their families centered on a theme of persistence, and coincided with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Congresswoman Amata on the platform at the ceremony with University President Dr. Robert Underwood at the podium.
Video of the Congresswoman’s remarks and Dr. Underwood’s presentation to her.
Text of Congresswoman Amata’s remarks:
Thank you to this great University, to Dr. Robert Underwood, and all the alumni, faculty and students who make this place so special. Education was always a priority in my family, especially with the example and encouragement of my father, Governor Coleman. Even so, when I earned a degree at the University of Guam in 1975, I never dreamed I’d be receiving another in this way from my Alma Mater. It’s humbling, and a meaningful moment to be a small part of the legacy of this institution.
I can’t help but notice – as an islander – that this announcement is during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I’ve seen great progress for those of us who share heritage from around the Pacific, and it’s a pleasure to see new leaders and young leaders of the future representing our various cultures so well, and taking on positions of responsibility and innovation in their communities, businesses and governments, not only within the U.S., but also places like New Zealand and Australia.
The University of Guam is the premier higher education institution for a large part of an immense Pacific region, and you have a special part in sending out leaders, educators and entrepreneurs that can and will maintain this momentum for the next generation.
As a Member of Congress from American Samoa, I have a unique opportunity to represent a small place in the most powerful city in the world, and seek to make a difference in lives, sometimes one life at a time through casework for a veteran, and sometimes pressing for a policy change that takes time, persuasion and persistence. As insular representatives, we’ve learned that working together we can accomplish much more for the Territories than any one Member can alone.
I also have the immense blessing to regularly leave Washington and live the island life that I love in our home at Coconut Point. I couldn’t ask for a better life, and the path that I’ve walked in some ways started right here with my time on the beautiful island of Guam and my studies here at the University. I couldn’t have predicted then all that God had for me… Looking back, I’m immensely thankful, and I believe I still have much work to do. My prayer, like the Psalmist, is that God would “establish the work of our hands” so that our voices – the people of American Samoa and other island Territories – are heard in the halls of Congress.
As a woman from a culture that hasn’t traditionally elevated women to leadership, my story is one of persistence. Every time I stand before the next generation I’m filled with optimism. The future is bright and I know you will come together and do wonderful things in the years ahead. I’d humbly encourage you to persist… Persist, and doors will open before you that you never anticipated.
Thank you once again.