PACE Puts Haverhill Woman on Path to Success
Nairoby Gabriel was looking for a fresh start. She didn’t do so well in high school, and she wanted to get back on her feet and prove to herself that she could succeed academically. She found her new beginning at Northern Essex Community College.
At Northern Essex, Gabriel participated in the Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) Program, a federally-funded student support services program that helps students succeed. Students are eligible for PACE if they are a first-generation college student and they meet federal financial guidelines.
Karen Mitchell, director of PACE, says they give students a foundation for success. “Generally, we help students transform their lives while they are here and beyond. We establish relationships with the students and give them resources to be successful. They gain confidence, and when they get involved, they really blossom” she says.
Gabriel proved that to be true. In addition to participating in PACE, she was a member of the Student Senate, Amnesty International, and the Student Leadership Development Program. She graduated from NECC in 2014 with honors and a degree in Liberal Arts: Political Science.
She transferred to UMass Boston, studied abroad in France, and then transferred to UMass Lowell where she graduated in May from the Honors College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
Gabriel was one of approximately 250 students who participate in PACE annually. The program, which has been at NECC since 1980, has just been approved for a new five year grant cycle from 2016- 2021.
Mitchell says the comment she hears most from students is “PACE changed my life.”
Gabriel would agree. She would like to be a diplomat and work as a foreign services officer, and she just landed a job as a congressional staff assistant for Senator Elizabeth Warren. She credits PACE with helping her find her direction. “PACE was phenomenal. They had a lot of resources, and they really get to know you and your situation. They help you find your perfect path,” she adds.
Gabriel is also thankful to PACE for one more thing: “I met my husband through the PACE program,” she happily exclaims.
PACE is a Student Support Services program funded by a TRiO grant from the U.S. Department of Education.