Shalimar Quiles – Alumni Success
After graduating from Lawrence High School in 2006, Shalimar Quiles was ready to experience someplace new so she enrolled at an out-of-state university. One semester later, financial reality set in, and she decided to return home and attend Northern Essex. Beginning at NECC in the summer, Shalimar was determined to obtain her bachelor’s degree within four years.
Things were not always easy for Shalimar, who was a first-generation college student. Between trying to navigate the complicated higher education system and stay on top of her academics, Shalimar found difficulties in meeting her goal. She made appointments with both her advisor and the Student Success Center for tips on how to earn her degree within her time-frame. Although intimidated at first, Shalimar created a map of what to do to complete her associate degree and to successfully transfer. She received lots of help at NECC. She credits the supportive faculty and staff at NECC with empowering her to accomplish her goals. One of the best pieces of advice she received was to get involved. Shalimar did just that. From internships, to campus activities, she took advantage of the many opportunities that NECC offered.
Shalimar graduated from NECC in 2008 and transferred to Simmons College in Boston. Almost immediately, Shalimar met with administrators to make sure she could graduate within two years. Armed with a new map, Shalimar immersed herself into all of Simmons College’s offerings—including a study abroad opportunity. With her sharp focus, she was able to graduate within two years and land a job at Unlocking Potential, a nonprofit in Boston. While there, Shalimar worked with Jeffrey Riley, who was a principal at one of Boston’s middle schools. Riley was appointed as the Receiver for the Lawrence Public Schools a short time later and asked Shalimar if she was interested in returning to her hometown to help improve the school system. Shalimar enthusiastically accepted. Although stressful at times, Shalimar says it has been a “dream job” to work for the Lawrence Public School system, keeping Lawrence students in all grades engaged in school.
Shalimar credits the encouragement she received at NECC for setting her on her career path. While she is not entirely sure about the next step, which may include a master’s degree or a teaching position, she loves where her career has taken her and is embracing it for now. Shalimar advises NECC students to take the time to build relationships with their professors and to become involved. She says students should do anything that interests them because they never know what door it may open. She advises that doing these two things will help students become their own advocates and will help them gain support along the way.