84 rainbow graduates face uncertain economic landscape

RECENT GRADUATE: Kialanni Aniceto, left and her sister Leihanni Aniceto shop for back to school supples Monday July 27 at National Office Supply in Upper Tumon. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

More than 80 students from different Guam public high schools earned their diploma Thursday, joining a long line of fellow "rainbow graduates" who have taken advantage of summer programs to complete the trek through high school.

The graduates, however, may find themselves entering a job market more uncertain than anything their predecessors have faced. They aren't alone, as college and high school graduates this year all face challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't envy anybody who is between jobs, who's lost their job, who's been furloughed or is coming out to the job market at this time," said Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez.

"I would say it's not just the rainbow graduates, it's really for all of our recent graduates and for anybody in between jobs. I do think there may be some sectors maybe able to continue hiring, but those sectors are going to be few and far between," he added.

The Guam Daily Post caught up with one recent high school graduate, Leihanni Aniceto, who was shopping for school supplies with her younger sister last week.

Aniceto is searching for a job and is concerned she won't find one with how competitive the market is for available positions at the moment. For now, she spends her time taking care of her younger sisters, when she's not job hunting.

"It's important to open the economy back up and have these graduates also be open to a lot more, if they're not going to college ... be very open to the jobs that are available," Fernandez said.

GDOE continues to hire, he added, including positions such as school aides and teacher's assistants for any interested.

"If you haven't thought of education, come knock on our door. There may still be positions available and we hope that they'll take advantage of it, but you can't be picky in this situation until the economy gets into a better place," Fernandez said. "If the school system can do a good job of keeping kids safe ... I think that will go a long way to supporting also the efforts to reopen the economy."

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