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Student Receives Support Following Tragedy

Submitted by on May 8, 2019 – 1:51 pm

Lucia Rondon hopes to make a difference in her community with a public health degree.

Even before she walked across the stage to accept her associate degree in public health Lucia Rondon had already been on the receiving end of the very role for which she’s now trained.

Rondon and her entire family were supported by public and private agencies and organizations when her younger brother Leonel became the lone fatality in the Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions in September 2018. The entire Lawrence community galvanized to advocate for the Rondons who found themselves immersed in a very public tragedy.

This, said the 29-year-old, is what she wants to do…help others…educate and advocate for her community to help decrease social disparities and language barriers around health related issues.

Now, as a medical case manager at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, that is exactly what she is doing, helping others.

One day she hopes to gather all she has learned and possibly write policy and change laws and regulations to make the community better.

This Bronx, NY, native was educated in the Dominican Republic. She was a young teen when her family settled in Lawrence. Following her 2008 graduation from Lawrence High School she enrolled at Northern Essex and earned a associate degree in middle/high school education, a phlebotomy certificate and medical administration certificate. After training with the American Red Cross she worked as both a certified nurse assistant and then a medical assistant in a local physician’s office. Wanting to build on her medical knowledge and continue to work in the medical field, the now mom of two returned to NECC for her degree in public health.

“I love everything about it,” she said. “Public health is like a big umbrella. It includes so many things like environmental health, health hazards, disease prevention, and promotes and encourages healthy behavior to prolong life in the community. This degree will open more doors in my career. There are a lot of options for me to help people in their communities.”

Since January, Rondon has interned in Boston’s Public Health Department in the Community Health and Prevention Office. The experience has helped confirm she is on the right path. She hopes to extend that path to a four-year school where she will earn her bachelor’s degree in public health.

“I want to be a manager or a supervisor of community health workers,” she said. “I want to be involved with policy making and bring my ideas to the table to help make change.”

Rondon has the highest of praise about her many experiences at Northern Essex.

“I was thinking of stopping school after the explosion happened and my little brother died, but I received great support from my professors and the counseling office. There was always someone there every step of the way with me.”

Northern Essex offers an associate degree and public health and a certificate in community health worker. It is the only associate degree in public health offered in New England.

This is Lucia’s story. What’s your story? #MyCommunityCollege

To learn more about NECC’s Commencement, visit the Commencement web pages.