NECC Educates Grads to be Better Citizens
Civic Engagement took center stage during Northern Essex Community College’s 56th Annual Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 19, on the Haverhill campus.
Close to 1,100 graduates received associate degrees or certificates.
The commencement proceedings opened with the national anthem sung by NECC alumna Carli Hamilton of Plaistow, N.H.
Northern Essex President Lane Glenn reminded the graduates and their families and friends that statistics show 94 percent of them will remain the Merrimack Valley.
“It’s likely you’ll raise your families here, pay your taxes here, and contribute in other ways. You will be an integral part of the fabric of our community,” he said. “And, we hope, that in addition to preparing you for careers and further education, we have also prepared you to be good citizens, which is a priority
of ours at Northern Essex.”
He noted that many of them, through their course curriculum, had already participated in volunteerism on some level and experienced “…the power that comes from being an engaged, informed citizen.”
Glenn highlighted a few of the graduates who were already deeply committed to civic engagement including Jinette Galarza, a native of Puerto Rico, who came to the United States at age 10. The recipient this year of the state’s “29 Who Shine Award”, she has been involved in “missionary trips to poverty-stricken areas of Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, China and Western Sahara. She is also a Sunday school teacher, he said.
She hopes to be a history teacher in her hometown of Lawrence after graduating from UMass Lowell.
“Jinette, you will be an exceptional role model for your students,” he said. “And we are proud of you and your accomplishments.”
He also gave a nod to Jaime Romero, of Plaistow, NH, a single mom of teen twin daughters, who was graduating with a degree in human services. She is currently the director of the 174-bed family shelter at Emmaus House.
“Jaime, we applaud you for your commitment to helping others and the positive impact you have had on the lives of so many,” he said.
He also gave a shout out to veteran-graduate Samuel Howell, of Amesbury, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned his degree in Computer Information Sciences. Glenn and asked that all the veterans under the tent stand for applause.
He took a moment as a “proud father” to point out that one of the youngest graduates of the day to earn her associate degree before receiving her high school diploma from Amesbury High School was his own daughter Thomasina Glenn. She will transfer her credits to Northern Vermont University with whom NECC has a transfer partnership.
Student speaker Malina Popa, a native of Romania, who earned her degree in engineering science, told her fellow classmates, “My fellow grads, I applaud you for your amazing achievement. Many of you had to face obstacles that might have seemed insurmountable, challenges such as poverty, problems with your immigration status, limited English proficiency, or lack of support. However, you all rose to the occasion, every single time…”
Her own journey to engineering was unusual, she said.
“I did not choose Engineering- Engineering chose me. From the multitude of jobs I applied for…the first job I got an answer from was an assembler position for an electronics company…after a while I became very interested in the field and, when I applied to NECC …I enrolled in the Technology and Engineering program… You see, in life, sometimes you need to be open to what comes your way, embrace the unexpected and get ready to fight for dreams that might seem impossible.”
Here is Popa’s speech.
Keynote Speaker Representative Andy Vargas, whose father learned English as a Second Language at NECC, extolled the virtues of Northern Essex.
“Northern Essex plays such a vital role for the Merrimack Valley and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This college is more than a traditional higher education institution; it is a treasure and creator of community and opportunity.”
Recent high school graduates, young professionals, and seasoned professionals returning to college for retraining all haveone thing in common, Vargas said.
“Northern Essex has your back.”
He acknowledged that many in attendance might wonder what qualifies him, a “24-year- old who is still figuring it all out, to give advice…I’m not so sure myself. But, I’ve picked up a couple things during my past few years in public service, and maybe they’ll be helpful to your journey beyond graduation…First, don’t be afraid to look stupid. Anyone who accomplished anything looked stupid at least 15 times before getting there… Second– there are two factors that can make or break any personal or professional endeavor. Egos and empathy…Big egos build walls and empathy moves mountains and invites understanding… Finally, revisit your purpose. Life gets crazy and it is important to keep your main mission in mind. As
author Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
He closed his remarks by saying, “ …let us consider the words of civil rights leader Howard Thurman as guidance in our next steps — ‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’ So class of 2018, what makes you come alive?”
Here is Vargas’s speech.
Alumnus Bill Klueber, who is chairperson of the NECC Alumni Association, presented the Outstanding Alumni Award to Karina Calderon of Methuen who earned an associate degree last year and became an assistant director of the Lawrence Partnership. Most recently she was appointed to the NECC Alumni Board.
Emeritus status, which recognizes sustained excellence in performance, character, and meritorious service to the college, was presented by William Heineman, NECC vice president of academic and student affairs, to recent retirees Terry Cargan of Haverhill and Bernard “Bill” Zannini of Salem, NH.
Cargan taught English at Northern Essex for 30 years, 12 years as an adjunct and 18 years as a full-time faculty member.
“She is a teacher who was as popular with her students as she was with her faculty colleagues,” Glenn said. “Passionate about her subject, she constantly strove to create a stimulating learning environment for her students.”
In addition to her success in the classroom, Cargan served for close to 15 years as chair of the Executive Committee of the All College Assembly, an advisory board to the president.
She was named professor emerita of English.
Zannini, left a very successful 30-year career in corporate research and development to pursue a second career in college teaching, Glenn said. He started teaching business at Northern Essex part time in 2002 and he joined the faculty full time in 2004.
“Bill has a passion for entrepreneurship and he created several courses on that topic as well as a business plan competition that was held for 10 years at the college each May,” he said.
He was named professor emeritus of business.
Also receiving emeritus status, but unable to attend commencement were Ann Grandmasion of Nashua NH, coordinator emerita of library research services and Lynne Nadeau of Salem, NH, director emerita of tutoring services.
Floral arrangements were provided by Holland Flowers.
Musical selections were provided by members of the Stuart Highland pipe band.
HC Media live streamed the entire commencement ceremony so those not able to attend could watch.
Here is the 2018 list of graduates.