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Local Man Gets a Second Chance at College

Submitted by on May 11, 2018 – 3:22 pm

Community Colleges are all about second chances, and Chris Montes of Haverhill, who will graduate with honors and an Associate Degree in Business Transfer from Northern Essex Community College on May 19, is well aware of that.

Montes enrolled at Northern Essex after graduating from high school in 2010 but it didn’t go well.

His first semester grades were bad and his second semester was even worse.  Eventually, he dropped out, choosing instead to work fulltime in the warehouse of a local company.

Montes takes full responsibility for his failure and he admits that at 18 or 20 years old “I wasn’t my best self.”

Still, he had challenges that most young men his age don’t have.  At the time, his mother, Katheleen Morales of Haverhill, had been diagnosed with lymphoma and was undergoing treatment.

“I was so worried about her.  It set me back,” he says.

Full-time work and the recognition that he needed to take responsibility for supporting himself is what led him back to higher education two-and-a-half years ago, and a fascination with personal finance inspired him to change his major from computer science to business management.

He started with a part-time course load, and, as his confidence built, he eventually took on a full course load his last semester, all while working fulltime at New Balance, helping to maintain the security cameras for new balance properties throughout the world.

Since he started at Northern Essex for the second time, he has earned straight A’s and praise from professors from all disciplines, including his Chemistry professor, Sarah Courchesne.  “Chris embodies the very nature of scholarly pursuit: the desire to understand how things work across multiple disciplines, a keen analytical mind, and an incessant drive to ask “why?” The questions he raises go right to the very heart of the matter, and he is never satisfied with pat, superficial answers.”

In the fall, Montes will transfer to the accounting program at UMass Lowell as a junior.  Eventually, he wants to become a corporate accountant, while pursuing his passion—helping low income individuals with their personal finances—in his free time.

His mother, now in remission, will be at commencement to cheer him on, along with his 17-year old brother, Justice Rodriguez, a student at Whittier Vocational Technical School, and his 20-year old sister Tianalys Tejeda.