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Student Success Center Helps NECC Graduates Succeed

Jose Mane (left), Dayanna Martes (center), and Emmanuel Hernandez (right)

Jose Mane (left), Dayanna Martes (center), and Emmanuel Hernandez (right)

For many community college students it takes more than the “two-years” that many believe it should take to obtain an Associate Degree and transfer. This is especially true for first-generation students, regardless of how “good” of a student one may be, and the sooner students can talk about the graduation timeline the less mystery there will be in the complex world of higher education.

There are various reasons for taking an extra semester or two or three to graduate: the necessity to work and help the family with finances; parental responsibilities; a change of major; health issues and many others. The good news is there are role models to follow, who experience very similar difficult circumstances, but have succeeded and are moving on.

Jose Mane (left), Dayanna Martes (center), and Emmanuel Hernandez (right) were all Dean’s list students for multiple semesters at NECC and they also took some extra time to graduate.

Jose came from Dominican Republic a few years ago and graduated from Lawrence High School as one of the top students. Prior to starting college, he participated in NECC’s Summer Bridge Program in which incoming students received English and Math prep for two weeks and an overview of the different aspects of a college education. Jose’s extra effort helped pave his success. In addition, he was a regular at the Student Success Center, where students receive guidance, homework help, career coaching, and referrals to different services provided at NECC such as the PACE Program. However, Jose needed to work and wanted to ensure that he earned high grades, so he strategically enrolled in no more than 12 credits per semester. At this rate, Jose was aware that he would need an extra semester, but for him it was worth it if it meant better grades. Jose graduated in December 2014 with a 3.4 GPA and will transfer to a 4-year school in fall 2015.

Dayanna also participated in the Summer Bridge Program even though she graduated from Lawrence High as a top student. She was well-aware the extra help would benefit her studies, especially when one considers that she is the first in her family to attend college in the United States or anywhere, like many other NECC students. She would regularly reach out for direction regarding her academics and career even while earning mostly A’s in all her classes. She stayed engaged on campus participating in student activities such as the National Dominican Student Conference and as a Student Assistant in the community and at the Student Success Center. This constant connection to the college encourages students to remain focused in their studies and exposes them to faculty, staff, and students who can provide some kind of guidance and motivation when necessary. Dayanna graduates with a 3.5 GPA (Cum Laud) and will transfer to UMass – Lowell to study Accounting.

Emmanuel earned his high school diploma at Job Corps after dropping out of Lawrence High at a young age. Personal and family crises clouded many of his dreams prior to arriving at NECC and he did not feel he had the capability to obtain a college degree. Once we saw his coursework, it was evident that he did not need academic guidance, rather advising regarding career options and the emotional roller coaster that comes with college. Within a couple of semesters, Manny became comfortable and gained confidence. This was shown in his work as an Orientation Leader, and Student Assistant and a role model to other Hispanic males who struggle to express their doubts and personal deficiencies. His willingness to tell his story validates his past experiences, which helps formulate future goals. Regardless of his academic skills, Manny just needed to express himself in order to feel connected to his studies. Many of our students are encouraged to follow similar paths. Manny graduated with a 3.45 GPA and will transfer in fall 2015.

These are great students who earned outstanding grades and did not become discouraged when they spent more than two years to graduate. Once they connected with staff and students, they realized that rushing and taking the “traditional” 15 credits per semester was not realistic if they wanted to ensure good grades. They learned from others, took advice and are now graduates moving on to the next chapter. Congratulations!