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Philosophy Major is the New Student Trustee
June 29, 2022 – 5:19 pm

When Sarah Pachano of Lawrence learned she would be joining the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees as the newly student-elected representative, she got to work immediately. The philosophy major seized every opportunity to talk to fellow students and learn more about their experiences at NECC. “I just go around and introduce myself and ask students their thoughts,” she says.

Pachano emigrated to Lawrence from the Dominican Republic with her mother and grandmother when she was 18. Initially unfamiliar with higher education in the United States, she learned about community college from friends and family. “Opportunities are slim in the Dominican Republic. I knew that by moving here, you could pursue something you love.”

Pachano enrolled in 2016 and started working toward her engineering science degree. But when the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, she says she took the time to reflect and realized that she wanted to take a different path. “Covid forced everyone to sit down and think, and I realized there were many things we can’t ignore in the world.” Pachano changed her major to philosophy and joined the Student Government Association in the spring of 2022.

She says being more involved on campus has ignited a passion for helping others and ensuring her fellow students can access the many support services available at NECC. “And then I heard about the student trustee position and thought this is an opportunity to bring students’ ideas to life.”

During her time as a student trustee, Pachano hopes to address topics including student mental health, LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation, and transportation options. She says she will continue seeking feedback from other students and encourage them to get involved. “I talk to everyone; I want to know their thoughts. I want to help the school feel like a community,” she says.

Pachano will graduate next spring and plans to transfer to UMASS Amherst to continue to study philosophy. Her goal is to earn her Ph.D. and become a professor. She is currently participating in the PACE program, which supports first-generation college students, and she is doing a work-study with the SOAR program. The SOAR initiative helps pair students with services like peer mentoring, tutoring, academic skills workshops, and transfer advising.

The NECC Board of Trustees includes nine members whom the governor of the state appoints to a maximum of two five-year terms, as well as an alumni-elected member, who also serves a maximum of ten years and a student trustee who serves for two semesters. Pachano’s term will last through June 30, 2023.