NECC Celebrates Early College Graduates
214 graduates from ten local high schools earned college credits, in addition to their high school diplomas this year, as participants in Northern Essex Community College’s (NECC) Early College Program.
The students, along with their families, celebrated on Thursday, May 13, at the Early College Recognition Ceremony held on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus.
Graduating early college students earned an average of 23 credits — close to eight college courses each — which they will take to 40 colleges in the fall, including public universities and private institutions such as UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell (UML), Boston University, Clark University, Merrimack College, and Providence College. Thirty-eight of the graduates will attend NECC.
Haverhill High School’s Lily Hood graduated with credit for nine college courses which she will transfer to UMLin the fall. Hood plans to major in health science, continue on for a master’s and become a physician’s assistant. Thanks to the college credits she’s earned, she should be able to graduate with her bachelor’s at least a semester early and get a head start on her master’s. What she appreciated most about the early college program was the “flexibility” and “the amazing professors.”
Her classmate, Haverhill High School graduate Chelsea Daigle, will continue at NECC in the fall. Daigle admits to having a lot of interests and she plans to explore her options at NECC, taking courses in political science, chemistry, journalism, and education. Having already earned 40 credits, Daigle should be able to graduate with her associate degree in just a year.
Yarendy Lopez, a 2021 Lawrence High School graduate, will transfer her 28 credits to Northeastern University, where she will study health care management. Speaking about early college, she said “I am very glad I did it. Early college gave me an insight into what’s waiting for me in the fall.”
Mishael De La Cruz, another Lawrence High School graduate, is one of the 38 early college graduates who will continue their education at NECC, where he plans to major in psychology. For him, early college was an excellent learning experience and he loved meeting students from other high schools.
Speakers at the recognition ceremony included NECC President Lane Glenn, NECC Executive Director of PK-12 Partnerships and International Programs Marcy Yeager, early college English faculty Peter Maskaluk, NECC Provost and Vice President of academic affairs Bill Heineman, Lawrence High School Head of School Victor Caraballo-Anderson, Haverhill High School Principal Glenn Burns, and Whittier Superintendent Maureen Lynch.
NECC is one of 19 colleges and universities participating in the statewide Massachusetts Early College Initiative, which partners high schools with colleges and universities for designated programs between them. NECC has designated programs with Haverhill High School, Lawrence High School, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Students from these designated programs earn college credits for free while they’re still in high school. Plus, the classes count toward both students’ high school graduation requirements and their future college degrees. Most students spend the morning at their high school and travel to the college campus by bus for afternoon college-level courses.
Because the early college program also includes “pathways” that mimic college majors, including business, criminal justice, healthcare, and education, students can experience the rigors and culture of college while also getting a taste of their possible major.
In addition to its state designated partnerships with Haverhill, Lawrence, and Whittier, NECC offers its Early College Program to students from 25 other local high schools. These students can earn credits at a 50% discount.
Students honored at the May 13 ceremony were from Amesbury, Methuen, Newburyport, Pentucket Regional, Sanborn Regional, and Timberlane Regional high schools as well as the Phoenix Academy.
NECC’s partnerships have seen tremendous growth. There were 548 students enrolled in Early College Programs in the fall of 2020, a 37% increase over the fall of 2019 when 398 students were enrolled.