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Continuing a legacy

Yes&Know By Aline Yamashita

Recently, our mom joined the heavenly crowd. The University of Guam held a Memorial in honor of her life. She and dad were founders of the University of Guam. The following are snippets of what was shared.

President Anita Borja-Enriquez shared mom’s felt presence and gentle scoldings. We all chuckled. Dean Alicia Aguon shared how mom was her master teacher during her student teaching. Mom placed the student teachers who were confronted by the Department of Education strikers at the Academy of Our Lady of Guam. Alicia shared the trauma of crossing the picket line and how mom protected them, keeping the desire to become a teacher steady.

UOG President Emeritus Robert Underwood shared mom’s work as a colleague at the university and on the Board of Education. He also shared how her recommendation for his presidency was greatly appreciated. Vice Provost Emerita Deborah Leon Guerrero shared that while petite, mom was a powerhouse. And, that she will always be among us.

My sister produced a slide show of personal and professional pictures of mom in motion. The first song, "Fly Me to The Moon," kicked it off. It was on the top ten list for mom and dad. They loved dancing.

Ryan thanked everyone for sharing the stories, many of which he had not heard before. He thanked them for celebrating his grandma’s life.

The following came from me.

Madame president, we present to you a gift from our family. This crystal owl has been perched in our home for decades. Representative of wisdom – island wisdom, regional wisdom, global wisdom, reflective knowledge, binocular vision, wide lens landscaping, determination, a presence respected, and a presence missed when absent, with graciousness to be appreciated.

These traits are leadership traits, yours. Dream big, shoot for the moon, land on constellations. That is what mom and dad did.


Dad was a science major. Believed in science and math, hardcore, for sure. But dad also believed in the humanities and the arts as he believed the arts provide the joy of life. We know that the arts are a natural intelligence of our people. Perhaps, you can encourage the community to develop a Fine Arts Charter School, preschool – grade 12 with a pipeline straight to UOG. We hope to see your leadership strengthen the Triton Art Programs. Hopefully, the Fine Arts Building will be built.

Mom was a home economist who knew that everything starts at the beginning. Her extension work delivered two houses that facilitated early childhood development, teacher training, and community service. Sadly, succeeding presidents believed it was too costly. But, as we know, we either invest at the beginning or we pay later. Guam’s crime rates, family violence, unemployment numbers, suicide rates, diabetes and heart disease rates show we have much work to do.

Before the pandemic, we had 55,000 people on government assistance. This is what happens when we do not provide high-quality early childhood education. Your leadership can get us back on track starting with a robust infant toddler teacher training program.

The arts and early childhood education are solutions to many of our current problem areas. Investment in human capital from the beginning in all areas is a must. Cultural competency must be reflected in every thread of UOG’s work and presence. We are a people who love people. Let us invest in that. Because right now, on our island, there is little respect and regard for diversity.

You have an exceptional communications chief and team. Thank you, Jonas, for your incredible award-winning work. We hope ways to provide regular updates about Today's Tritons can become commonplace. An engaged, informed community makes a difference.

The Leon Guerrero Yamashita Legacy above prays and celebrates your work, madame president. The Leon Guerrero Yamashita team around you looks forward to working with you to make our world the best it can be. Thank you for honoring mom. She is smiling from above with great appreciation, with dad’s arms around her. They have flown to the moon and are dancing among the stars.

Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislature. Send feedback to

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