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For Mom of Three Job Lay-off Becomes Opportunity

Submitted by on January 15, 2019 – 8:00 am
portrait of Lara smiling at NECC

Rosanna Lara of Lawrence, Public Health major

When the company she was working for moved to the West Coast in 2017, Rosanna Lara of Lawrence was laid-off, a prospect she admits was scary at first.

Two months later, the 30 year-old was happily enrolled full time in Northern Essex’s Public Health Program.

“Sometimes things happen for a reason.  God has something else in mind,” explains Lara, who is fluent in both Spanish and English.  “It feels like this is me.  I want to do outreach, work with my community to promote wellness.”

Lara will earn her community health worker certificate this May, and she’ll be qualified for jobs in the community, most likely connecting vulnerable populations with healthcare.  While working, she plans to continue her education, earning first an Associate Degree in Public Health, which transfers into a bachelor’s degree in public health offered by Regis College on Northern Essex’s Lawrence Campus.   Eventually, she plans to earn a master’s degree.

The straight-A student, wife, and mother of three children, ages 3, 5, and 7, has fully embraced the college experience.  She participates in the Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) Program, a federally funded support program for first-generation college students; is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a national community college honorary society; completed the college’s student leadership program; and works 10 hours a week as a work-study student in the college’s Center for Adult Education Programs & Preparation.

Lara credits her strong organizational skills and her husband—who she calls her “main support”— with her success.

She also appreciates the flexible scheduling.  Courses in the public health program are offered in a hybrid format, meaning the class meets face-to-face once a week and most work is completed online.

Lara admits that going back to school with a family “can be tough at times” but she says the rewards outweigh the challenges.  She makes an effort “to celebrate every step in the process” and admits to sharing those straight A report cards on her Facebook page.

Northern Essex is enrolling now for the spring semester, which starts January 23.  To learn more, visit the website,, or contact enrollment services, or 978 556-3700.