Degree is Earned through Online Classes
How did Aracelis Alvarado – wife, mom, and full-time billing supervisor manage to earn her NECC associate degree?
Ambition and online classes were her not so secret tools. While the ambition came from herself. The classes she completed almost exclusively online through Northern Essex Community College.
Raised by her maternal grandmother, by the time Alvarado reached her junior year at Lawrence High School, she was ready to strike out on her own. She found an apartment and took on two sometimes three jobs to support herself. When she was 20 and about to become a mom, she decided to get serious about her future. She completed her GED and enrolled in the LARE Institute, an educational and occupational skill job training and job placement program. She learned the basic clerical skills required to work in an office.
A quick learner with a great work ethic, Alvarado was hired as a receptionist at a local urology practice and quickly took on other responsibilities including medical billing, inventory control, bank deposits, and computer systems. By the time the practice closed she had gathered a strong skill set and found a position with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) practice. After 10 years, the practice outsourced the billing. She recovered quickly finding a position as a billing supervisor for another ENT.
The job losses made an impact on Alvarado however and she realized how vulnerable she was in the job market.
“There were two reasons I decided to return to school,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t afford to lose my job again and I wanted to be a role model for my two daughters. So I decided to enroll at Northern Essex.”
The Haverhill resident is currently finishing her final courses toward an Associate Degree in Business Management: HealthCare Practice and is maintaining a 3.77 GPA. She is on track to graduate in May and hopes to enroll in a local bachelor’s degree program.
“The majority of my classes I took online, which helps a great deal when you work full time,” she said. “If not for the online classes I’m not sure I could have done it.”
While Alvarado admits online classes are not for everyone, she told herself she was going to make it work. Some of her online tips? Be organized, follow the syllabus, be aware of project and exam due dates, go online every day, prepare and don’t wait to ask a professor a question – sometimes it takes a few days for them to answer, she said.
“Online classes worked for me because I was able to create school, work, life balance,” she said.
She encourages other online learners to participate in extracurricular activities. She was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
“It’s funny when I started at Northern Essex I was worried I would be the oldest student in the classroom,” she said. “Turns out there are others older than me.”