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NECC Attracts Those with College Degrees  

Submitted by on August 1, 2018 – 5:16 pm

Samantha Romano already held a bachelor’s degree when she enrolled at NECC.

Increasingly, individuals who already hold college degrees are turning to Northern Essex Community College for an additional associate degree or certificate. Whether it’s to change careers or follow a dream, NECC is a destination for degree holders.

Samantha Romano of Kingston, NH, is just one example. A three-sport athlete out of Sanborn Regional High School, studying physical science seemed like a natural path for her when she enrolled at Plymouth State University. While physical science interested her, after college graduation Romano found herself looking in other areas for career advancement.

Just one computer class at Northern Essex convinced Romano to pursue her associate degree in computer and information sciences.

“I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner’,” she said. “Now I love everything I’m doing. There is always a challenge. My experience at Northern Essex was phenomenal. Faculty were always so supportive and interested in how I learned.”

Her time at NECC was time well spent. An internship with a computer company led to a job offer. She was employed before she graduated. Today she works for yet another computer company where her career continues to advance.

“Honestly, making the decision to go back to school at NECC was one of the hardest but most rewarding decisions I’ve made,” she said.

Romano is not alone. For the past several years between five and six percent of students enrolled at Northern Essex already hold degrees. This number is in line with the national percentage based on a survey by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas – Austin that was cited in a 2015 U.S. News & World Report article. While most of these students earned bachelor’s degrees, some even hold master’s degrees or doctorates.

“We have students who have a master’s degree and they are not finding a job in the area they thought they would, or are working at a job and it went away,’’ said Grace Young, dean of academic policy advising, articulation, and transfer at Northern Essex. “In some cases, it’s not that there are no jobs, it’s just that they’ve been at a job and have a different interest.’’

Young said she noticed the trend starting within the past couple of years. She said there is strong interest in health care and human service programs such as respiratory therapy, sleep technology, and alcohol and substance abuse counseling.

The reasons and programs may vary, but the outcome is the same – personal satisfaction or career advancement.

Wilmington’s Katelyn Richardson had already earned a bachelor’s degree in health science with a minor in biology from James Madison University when she enrolled in NECC’s American Sign Language Interpreter Certificate Program. She is waiting to begin a Physician’s Assistant (PA) Program this fall. She hopes to become the rarest of commodities – a PA who is fluent in ASL.

“I was looking for a program that fit my schedule and was affordable,” she said. “I found what I was looking for at Northern Essex.”

Kathleen Worden Cabral of Bradford, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UMass Dartmouth, worked for more than 25 years in newspapers and private industry as an ad supervisor, paginator, graphic designer, and copy editor. While she currently works for a marketing design firm in Beverly, she felt it was important to stay current in all aspects of design, so she enrolled in NECC’s Web Design and Development Certificate Program. She is just one class away from completion.

“I think the certificate program is helpful…I’m glad I learned some web design. I know more now than I did. It’s a good skill to have. It can only help me,” Cabral said.

College graduates interested in pursuing classes or a program at NECC can visit the program page on the NECC website.