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NECC Hosts Service Learning & Community Engagement Recognition Ceremony

Submitted by on May 12, 2014 – 7:29 pm
Paula Richards, NECC’s service learning coordinator, Luis Disla, NECC student speaker, and Jane Thiefels, guest speaker.

Paula Richards, NECC’s service learning coordinator, Luis Disla, NECC student speaker, and Jane Thiefels, guest speaker.

More than 300 Northern Essex Community College students, faculty, and staff were honored at NECC’s annual Service Learning and Community Engagement Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, May 1.

The students and faculty participated in a wide range of service learning activities over the academic year from tutoring at the Emmaus Family Shelter in Haverhill to providing dental sealants for students at Haverhill’s Tilton Elementary School.

“Service learning is when faculty give their students opportunities to engage in meaningful service as part of their coursework,” said Paula Richards, NECC’s service learning coordinator.  “These experiences enrich the students’ learning and provide ongoing opportunities for reflection.”

Students and faculty from all three NECC academic divisions were recognized for their service learning participation. In addition, students who volunteered through various student clubs and organizations were recognized for their valuable contributions to both the college and our community partners.

Former Northern Essex English as a Second Language Professor Jane Thiefels was the keynote speaker at the event.  While still teaching at Northern Essex, Thiefels earned an associate degree in nursing and became a registered nurse.  After retiring from the college in 2011, she volunteered for medical missions to Peru, Kenya, Senegal, India, Nepal and the Dominican Republic.

“When we open our hearts to give service, things happen that we’ve never dreamed of.  We discover unexpected things about ourselves,” said Thiefels.

Thiefels told the audience that “the important thing is to say yes.  I’ve found giving service is reciprocal.  After a while the giver and the receiver become the same.”

Luis Disla of Lawrence, who was the student speaker, shared his experiences as a participant in Jumpstart, a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students and community members to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods.  Through his experiences, Disla met a preschool child who helped him overcome his fears, decided on a new career path, and landed a new job.

For more information, contact Paula Richards, NECC service learning coordinator,, 978-556-3209.