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Mother of Three Finds New Career at NECC

Submitted by on July 19, 2011 – 3:16 pm

Shannon Sheltra

Shannon Sheltra lived a life that many would call charmed until her partner and the father of her children died unexpectedly six years ago.

Left alone with three young children to support, she struggled to hold on to the family horse farm, eventually losing it to foreclosure.

She knew she needed to find a job and that—with few marketable skills and just a high school education—she was going to have to continue her education.

Shannon was naturally anxious at the thought of going back to school in her mid 30s and it took “five or six visits” to Northern Essex before she had the courage to enroll. She chose the respiratory care program, based on her own struggles with chronic asthma and on the job market which was strong.

“I didn’t come to Northern Essex seeking self enrichment,” she says. “I came here because I needed to pay the bills.”

Shannon, who graduated in May with an associate degree in respiratory care, excelled academically at Northern Essex and immersed herself fully in the college experience serving as the founding president of the NECC Respiratory Care Club, as a member of the Student Senate, and as an NECC Presidential Student Ambassador. She also participated in the Honors Experience, which is an honors program designed for highly motivated students.

After a year at Northern Essex, she began supporting her family by working as a respiratory therapist with a student license at Spaulding North Shore Hospital in Salem. She plans to continue working at Spaulding after sitting for her national board of respiratory care credentialing exams this summer.

While at Northern Essex, Shannon found more than just a new career. She discovered what she calls “a vehicle to a brand new life.” In the fall, she will continue her education at Tufts University, working on her bachelor’s degree in Biology/Pre-Med, with the goal of eventually graduating from medical school and becoming a pediatric pulmonologist.