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Lawrence Nursing Grad will Represent NECC at Statewide “29 Who Shine” Event

Submitted by on March 30, 2021 – 1:48 pm


Yashana Rivera, a 2021 Nursing Grad, will receive the “29 Who Shine” Award at a virtual ceremony on May 13.

A bi-lingual nursing graduate with a passion for delivering health care in Greater Lawrence has been selected to receive the “29 Who Shine” award which honors Class of 2021 graduates from each of the state’s community colleges and public colleges and universities for their service to the Commonwealth.

Yashana Rivera of Lawrence will graduate from Northern Essex Community College with high honors and an Associate Degree in Nursing in May. Nominated by her Nursing Professor Brienna Woodworth, she will be recognized at a statewide ceremony on May 13, which will be held virtually this year.

In nominating her for this honor, Professor Woodworth shared Rivera’s “drive” and “commitment to giving back to her community.” “Yashana has vocalized her passion and dedication to the city of Lawrence. She wants to address health inequities, especially among people of color.”

Rivera graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2011 and soon started working as a paraprofessional for the Lawrence Public Schools, while enrolled part time at Northern Essex.

She later served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 800 Lawrence K-6 students with social emotional learning opportunities through positive play, a transitional opportunity, linking her public education experience with her interest in health.

In the nursing program since 2019, Rivera works part time as a medical assistant providing rapid COVID testing and has also volunteered with the Movement Family, an organization that helps the homeless by delivering meals and COVID care packages. She recently began administering vaccines in Lawrence as a volunteer.

Her roots in the city of Lawrence go back to her grandparents, Rosa and Luis, who emigrated from Puerto Rico in 1981, and now have a family that includes 19 grand and great-grandchildren.

“Becoming a nurse is a life-long dream,” says Rivera. “There aren’t many Latinx or bilingual nurses, and it’s very important to me to work in my community.”

After passing her nursing boards, Rivera plans to continue her education in an accelerated master’s program with the ultimate goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner serving the Lawrence community.

In her free time, Rivera circuit and weight trains, practices yoga, and hikes. She also loves to travel and has been piraña fishing in the Amazon, climbed Macchu Picchu, and dined aboard a floating house in Lake Titicaca.

Facilitated by the MA Department of Higher Education (DHE), the “29 Who Shine” awards were created 10 years ago to highlight the special role that Massachusetts public college and university students play as engaged citizens and future leaders. The awards and the attention generated by the ceremony serve to remind the legislature, business community and the public of the important contributions that public higher education students make to their communities. The “29 Who Shine” are a visible reminder of the “dividend” that investments in public higher education can yield for the Commonwealth.

The Virtual Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 13 at 2:00 pm and here’s a link.

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700.