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NECC is First Stop on the Way to a PhD for this Biology Grad

Submitted by on February 1, 2021 – 5:27 pm

Zoey Lauria, ’20 Biology Grad, and new STEM liaison

Zoey Lauria graduated from Northern Essex in December with high honors and an associate degree in Biology but she’s not leaving the college…yet.

The 20-year old was just hired as the college’s STEM liaison and she will be supporting students in science, technology, engineering, and math programs 25 hours a week, all while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology from UMass Lowell.

“I am beyond excited to be working here,” said Lauria, “My job is connecting students with the many resources that are available to them at Northern Essex.

Lauria is somewhat of an expert on this topic. A 2018 graduate of Timberlane High School, the Danville, NH resident enrolled at UMass Lowell and planned to live in a dorm on campus her first semester out of high school.

“I’d never lived away from home and it was too much stress,” says Lauria, who transferred in to Northern Essex after just one semester at UMass Lowell, joining her boyfriend and her sister who were already enrolled here.

While she thought her stay at Northern Essex would be “temporary”— just a semester or two until she figured out what she wanted to do—she ended up getting involved on campus, joining student government as the programming chair. “At that point, I couldn’t leave,” she says. “I’m an introvert but I loved the community.”

She also connected with the college Career Center and she credits Ashley Moore and Noreen Fantasia with helping her get her new job. The two worked with her to revise her resume, taught her how to write a cover letter, and coached her through mock interviews, after she heard she had been selected as a candidate for the job, services they provide for all Northern Essex students and alumni.

“I didn’t think I had a chance at getting this job, but because of Noreen and Ashley, I was so prepared.”

The best advice Lauria can give other students is to connect with their professors. When she made an effort to connect personally with Ken Thomas, her first biology professor, he became her champion and introduced her to his colleague Professor Sarah Courchesne, who invited her to do lab work for a gull research project conducted off the Isle of Shoals, located off the New Hampshire Seacoast.  Her research examined the gull’s blood to determine sex, and she was planning to continue the research and present at a natural science convention, but everything was cancelled because of the pandemic.

“When you get that connection with a professor, you can use it to your advantage, it opens up so many doors, and they want to get to know you,” she says.

Lauria is paying for college herself and she’s thankful for Northern Essex’s low cost. With plans to eventually earn a PhD in the biology field, she is very interested in saving money at the start of her education.

“Northern Essex costs exponentially less than a state university,” she says.

At 20-years old, Lauria has accomplished more than most her age. She has an associate degree, a clear career direction, and a part-time job in her field.

“I took advantage of all the resources Northern Essex offers, and here I am,” she says.