Academic Support Programs Prepared This Biology Graduate for Transfer
Rose Bellahalea ’18 was just shy of 20 years old when she made a drastic change.
Until 2014, the Haverhill resident had been enrolled as a political science major at the University of Buea, not far from her hometown of Kumba, Cameroon. But she soon realized she wanted a different path, and a different landscape.
By November of that year, she’d moved halfway across the world to Massachusetts to start her educational journey over – and selected Northern Essex Community College as the place to do just that. Though admitting to feeling “overwhelmed” in the beginning, she says that she quickly found her footing in NECC’s biology program and adjusted to the change of environment thanks to the welcoming attitude of her peers and instructors.
“In every class I went to, both the teachers and students were very welcoming,” she says. “The class population was so small – just the right number of students – which made it possible for the instructors to really know each and every one of us. And that was something I liked.”
She recalls that this setup helped her to excel in ways that she hadn’t previously anticipated. Feeling comfortable in the personalized classroom environment, she managed to finish all of the coursework for one of her first classes, Algebra I, mid-way through the first semester. By the end of the fall, she’d unexpectedly completed Algebra II as well. Both math courses were set up through a self-paced modularized environment, which allowed all students to advance through the work on their own schedule. Although just one course required completion by the end of the semester, some, like Bellahalea, chose to complete both in the 15-week timeframe.
“It was a challenge for me, which I was excited about, she says. “… So I did both courses in the same semester and passed with flying colors.”
Bellahalea’s proclivity for working hard also extended beyond the classroom – during her two-and-a-half years as a student at NECC, she made it a priority to join a number of clubs and organizations, serving as co-founder and first president of the African Student Club, and as a member of the Science Club, PACE Program, and Phi Theta Kappa.
“I can’t explain enough how helpful [these activities] were to me,” she says.
She adds that NECC’s academic support resources were instrumental in helping her locate her comfort zone and flourish in her studies. Lauding the PACE program in particular, Bellahalea says that the many programs and tutoring services available through this and other departments on campus ultimately prepared her to transfer on to the next step in her college career.
“All of these resources helped me succeed in class. I was able to transfer all my credits from NECC to Anna Maria College,” she explains.
Bellahalea graduated from NECC with an Associate of Science degree in Biology in 2018 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Anna Maria College earlier this spring. She is now looking forward to taking the NCLEX exam, with the long-term goal of eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.
She advises current NECC students to be involved with the college as much as possible.
“There are always scholarships to apply for to help with finances – use those,” she says. “Talk to your professors, use the writing center, go to the tutors. All these services are there to help you succeed.”
NECC offers multiple associate degree and certificate options in health and science. Please explore our website to learn more.