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Biology Grad Aspires to Be a Doctor

Submitted by on April 24, 2019 – 6:07 pm

Yexis Hechavarria of Lawrence aspires to be a doctor, and the Associate Degree in Biology that she earned from Northern Essex in 2019 is the first step in reaching that goal.

Hechavarria grew up in Cuba, where her parents were both doctors, and she immigrated with her family to the United States in 2015.  Two years later, after graduating from Lawrence High School, she enrolled at Northern Essex.

Hechavarria says her parents’ careers have influenced her interest in becoming a doctor but what has been most compelling is her fascination with what she calls “the miracle of life.”

“Our bodies are so complex that it’s a wonder we exist. We are made of iron and oxygen, and other chemicals that are part of the soil and nonliving things, and yet we breathe and we walk and we talk and we feel. That is the most fascinating thing to me.”

What Hechavarria appreciates most about her experience at Northern Essex is the personal attention.  “Sarah (Professor Courchesne) is always looking for opportunities for me…internships, scholarships.”

She joined Courchesne as a research assistant on a seabird ecology study in the Gulf of Maine the summer after she started at Northern Essex and, the next summer, she was chosen for a highly selected Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Northeastern University, where she was part of a lab team focused on studying aorta pathology in mice.

The summer after she graduated from Northern Essex she was accepted into the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship program, a ten-week residential summer science and technology program that includes research, courses, and an internship.  Hechavarria’s internship was with Bambu Vault of Lowell where she worked in research and development in the biomedical field.

Hechavarria will transfer her Northern Essex associate degree to Merrimack College where she plans to major in biochemistry.  After that, she has her sights set on medical school.

With all she has accomplished in five short years in this country, we have no doubt Hechavarria will successfully reach her goal.