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NECC Students are Volunteering in the Community

Submitted by on August 17, 2017 – 8:39 pm

Students from Professor Doris Buckley’s class partnered with the Merrimack Valley Hope Mission in Haverhill.

Northern Essex Community College’s commitment to service and community learning continues to grow.

As of this fall, the college has its first civic action plan, identifying goals for the next three years.

Janal D’Agata-Lynch, the college’s civic engagement and service-learning coordinator, who was hired in 2015, is tasked with “preparing students for engaged citizenship” and she does this by creating community service opportunities for our students, by inviting faculty to incorporate service learning projects into their courses, and by seeking out community partners that can benefit from the skills our students bring to the table.

One of D’Agata-Lynch’s priorities has been service learning, in which community service opportunities are incorporated into the course curriculum, making it a classroom experience.

Since D’Agata-Lynch came on campus the number of students involved in service learning has soared, from 232 in 2015/16 to 382 in 2016/17, a 65 percent increase.

Faculty from all areas of the college have embraced service learning, creating opportunities for their students to learn while helping others.

Last semester, the college partnered with Mitch’s Place, a homeless shelter in Haverhill. Professor Jennifer Jackson-Stevens’ respiratory care students offered COPD screenings, smoking cessation workshops, and information on lung health awareness, and Professor Cheryl Charest’s medical assisting students bought, cooked, and served a meal for residents, followed by a blood pressure clinic after dinner.

Another community partner is the Lawrence Boys’ and Girls’ Club.  Students from Professor Lisette Espinoza’s Writing Fusion course mentored children in the program and then wrote essays reflecting on their experiences, and Professor Marc Mannheimer’s Introduction to the Creative Experience students explored the arts with the children, using the tools they learned in the course.

The college partnered with 17 nonprofits this past year.

The new civic action plan, which aligns with the college’s strategic plan and includes campus-wide input, was written by D’Agata-Lynch and Professors Steve Russell and Paula Richards.

It outlines four outcomes with clear goals on how to get there.  The outcomes focus on encouraging faculty to adopt civic learning and service learning; insuring students receive civic education and practice leadership/civic engagement skills; building awareness of community service opportunities among faculty, students, staff, and alumni; and contribution to the economic, social, environmental, education and political well-being of our communities.  The full civic action plan is available online.

If you would like to get involved with service or community learning at Northern Essex, please reach out to D’Agata-Lynch at or 978 738-7530.