Menu button
Home » Bachelor Degree Partners, Headline, iHealth, Mobile, Programs

These Local Public Health Graduates are the First in New England

Submitted by on August 15, 2018 – 4:41 pm

Angie Colon of Methuen is in the first class of students to graduate with an associate degree in public health from NECC.

Seven of this year’s Northern Essex Community College graduates have the proud distinction of being the first in New England to graduate with an Associate Degree in Public Health.

Northern Essex has the only program in New England and there are only 11 programs offered nationwide.

Northern Essex began the program in the fall of 2016 in collaboration with the League for Innovation in the Community College, an international nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate innovation in the community college environment.

The program supports students who want to pursue an entry-level career in public health and eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.

“By providing health education and advocacy for patients, public health workers strive to improve health care outcomes,” said Jacqueline Dick, coordinator of Northern Essex’s Public Health Program.  “As a result, we hope to have healthier communities which will eventually result in lower health costs.”

Recent graduate Angie Colon of Methuen had been working full time as a phlebotomist while in the program, and, this summer, she—along with three other graduates—transferred to Regis College, which offers a bachelor’s completion in public health on Northern Essex’s Lawrence Campus.

“I really want to work in the community where I grew up,” said Colon, who lived in Lawrence before moving to Methuen five years ago.  “I’d like to advocate for patients, especially those who are Spanish speaking, helping them with referrals and appointments.”

Angie Colon of Methuen, graduate of the Associate Degree in Public Health, and Jacqueline Dick, public health program coordinator.

Northern Essex offers a Community Health Worker Certificate in addition to its Associate Degree in public health.

Individuals, who complete the Community Health Worker Certificate Program are trained to work in their communities to provide health education and outreach, assist with accessing health care services, and coordinate care. The Associate Degree in Public Health takes this concept a step further providing further classroom theory and field work experience- and  prepares students to enter a Bachelors completion program in Public Health.  Graduates can gain immediate employment with community health centers, hospitals, and municipal health departments.

The two-year Associate Degree in Public Health is designed with hybrid courses for students who are working or have other responsibilities.  Students come to campus one to two evenings a week and complete additional work online.  Both the certificate and the associate degree require an internship during the spring semester of one day a week for 15 weeks.

According to Dick, the perfect candidate for this program is someone who is interested in promoting health and wellness to individuals, families, and communities.  The job outlook for health educators and community health workers is good with anticipated job growth of 16% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average. * Several new graduates from this program are already employed in the field.

The first group to graduate included Angie D. Colon of Methuen, Anyely C. DeLaCruz of Lawrence, Leah W. Gathogo of Framingham, Shaleigh R. McGonagle of Londonderry, NH, Jeanette Rosales of Lawrence, Cecilene C. Royal of Malden, and Doris A. Wleh of Lowell.

Anyone interested in learning more about enrolling this fall, should contact Jacqueline Dick at

NECC offers a variety of health care degrees and certificates that prepare students for entry level health care positions. These are offered days, evenings, weekends, and online. For a complete list visit NECC’s health website.

*Statistics from Bureau of Labor