Lawrence Man Receives College Scholarship
Electrician Carlos Vilar is so intent on earning a college degree that he willingly uses his vacation and personal time through work to get it. The Lawrence resident, who holds a 4.0 GPA in Northern Essex Community College’s business management: computer applications program, was recently awarded the Mrs. Helen D. Flynn Scholarship for his academic efforts.
Vilar was one of more than 200 NECC students, 70 from Lawrence, to share over $200,000 in scholarship money raised and distributed by NECC’s Institutional Advancement Office.
At 36, the Dominican Republic native, understands the value of a college degree, but is intent on balancing his work as a licensed electrician, with his role as a husband and part-time college student. So, he takes two or three courses each semester.
After immigrating to the United States at 13, he says he made the unfortunate decision to leave high school. Years later he earned his GED, but continually thought about that elusive college degree.
“I always thought about college,” he says wistfully. “After seeing how well my friends who had college degrees were doing I knew I needed to go back to school.”
So he began by enrolling in noncredit courses. After gaining confidence, he says, “I summed up the courage to take the assessment tests. Because I had been out of school so long, my scores were a little low and my advisor introduced me to the Transition to College Program, which has been a blessing.”
Northern Essex’s Adult Basic Education Transition to College Program provides academic work in reading, writing, math and computers while integrating college adjustment skills such as time management, organization, note taking, paper writing, library, study and homework skills.
Vilar says the program helped him raise his scores across the academic board including reading, writing, math, reading comprehension and computer applications.
“My experience with Carlos,” wrote Stacy LaBella, his English professor in the Transition Program, “has proved … that he possesses a diligent work ethic and a desire to excel. What impressed me most in the time that I have known Carlos is his meticulous attention to detail as well as his introspective written responses: his ideas are intelligent and creative.”
Vilar credits NECC’s First Year Seminar with teaching him what to expect as a first year college student with techniques on how to handle the pressures of college life. He particularly enjoyed the diversity of the students who ranged in age from 18 to 60.
Because Vilar regularly works 40 to 60 hours a week, he says his supervisors at the electrical company where he works have been supportive and adjust his work schedule around classes when necessary. Eventually he hopes to use his college degree to advance within the company.
The $1,000 Flynn Scholarship, he said, was a nice surprise.
“This money is a great help for me. It’s really helped me out financially. College is expensive. This has lightened my financial need so I can focus on my academic goals,” he said. “I’m actually very grateful and thankful.”
“Our students are deeply appreciative of the many generous individuals and organizations that make these scholarships possible,” said Jean Poth, vice president of institutional advancement. “For many of our students, a scholarship is what allows them to stay in school.”
Scholarships range from $250 to $5,000 and come from a variety of sources, including private donors, memorial donations, local businesses, and private foundations.
Northern Essex offers an associate degrees in business management with options to focus on computer applications, healthcare practice, hospitality, or transfer.