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COVID-19 Didn’t Derail this Business Grad

Submitted by on August 3, 2020 – 7:15 pm

Northern Essex Community College Business Transfer Graduate James Batista lives in a multi-generational home in Lawrence with his mom, his brothers, his grandma, his aunts and his cousins. In April, COVID-19 spread through his home, infecting all of the adults in his family.

Batista was impacted the worst, experiencing a week and a half of high fevers, loss of smell, and other symptoms.

Keeping up with his full-time course load while sick was a challenge but, thanks to deadline extensions from understanding faculty, he completed the semester, earning all A’s and one B+ (that B+ in Astronomy still irks him).

Batista is used to managing challenges. He works full time as a direct care provider with adults with aggressive behaviors and attends college full time. While financial aid covers all of his college costs, he’s working to cover his living expenses.

With a houseful of family members finding a quiet place to study isn’t easy. “Sometimes I’d go to the basement where I could work interrupted and I’d often have to wait until everyone else was asleep to do homework,” he says.

He’s graduating with a 3.79 GPA and plans to transfer to UMass Lowell to pursue a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on accounting.

This will be his second time at UMass Lowell. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2015 and started at UMass that fall, but found he lacked focus. After working full time, he was ready to get his education back on track and decided to start at Northern Essex.

Batista chose accounting for a few reasons. “I like numbers and organizing spreadsheets. I also like saving money,” he says with a smile.

Batista’s story proves that there are second chances and also that hard work gets you where you want to go. His advice for others balancing college with work and other responsibilities? “I try to take online classes and I keep on top of my homework every day, chopping it up and doing it when I have the time.”