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Psychology Grows on Groomer

Submitted by on May 16, 2019 – 4:29 pm

Nicolette Barber loved grooming dogs, but was ready to return to school.

Dog grooming proved to be fun and creative for Nicolette Barber, but her furry clients just weren’t providing her with the intellectual stimulation she needed. That’s how the Ipswich resident came to enroll in Northern Essex’s liberal arts: psychology option program.

The 2011 Ipswich High School graduate attended a small private school following graduation from high school. After just one semester, she realized she was accruing a lot of debt as well as doubt about her major – vet technician. She decided a reset was in order. She left college and became a dog groomer.

“I love being a dog groomer, but not for the rest of my life,” she said. “I like school. I enjoy school. I’m good at school. So I decided to enroll at Northern Essex.”

That was in the spring of 2017. With her sights set on a PhD in neuro-psychology, she graduates Saturday, May 18, with a 3.8 GPA and membership in the Psi Beta Kappa community college national honor society in psychology.

With her self-discipline, she has taken a number of online courses successfully.

Her next stop she hopes will be a four-year university in New England where she will study neuro-psychology though she is undecided as to whether she will eventually work as a researcher or clinician.

The 26-year-old is also a member of Pathways for Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) Program, a federally-funded program that assists first generation or income eligible students in navigating college.

“Nicolette has both a brilliant academic mind, an outstanding thirst for knowledge, in addition to being down to earth and practical,” said Isabelle Gagne, an NECC Psychology professor. “She is an independent learner, having completed many of her course requirements online. She is not afraid to ask for advice when needed and consistently incorporates constructive feedback in her work.”

Gagne said Barber is that student who goes above and beyond class expectations. In her bio-psychology course she completed six additional essays on different neurological disorders and earned extra credit for assignments about concretely solving issues related to having neurological disorders such as dementia and substance abuse.

“Nicolette is also a great communicator,” she said. “Her writing skills are unparalleled as she is able to explain complex biological concepts in simple terms.”

Last year Barber was the recipient of the NECC Foundation and Retention scholarships.

This is her story. What is yours? #MyCommunityCollege