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NECC Announces Plans for 2022 Commencement, Including the Featured Speaker

Submitted by on February 24, 2022 – 9:34 pm

Haverhill and Lawrence, MA (February 24, 2022)-The last two years, Northern Essex Community College had to dramatically change its traditional commencement celebration, due to COVID-19.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, students were invited to drive on campus and pick up celebration packages, followed by a virtual commencement on a later date.

And in 2021, five smaller commencement ceremonies, allowing socially distancing, were held.

This year, Northern Essex will return to its traditional commencement, complete with kilted bagpipers leading the commencement procession, a featured commencement speaker, and a post-commencement reception with refreshments, music, and photo opportunities. The ceremony will begin on Saturday, May 14 at 11 am under a 2,700-person tent on the Haverhill Campus. The latest COVID-19 safety guidelines will be practiced.

Northern Essex is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year and this will be the college’s 60th Annual Commencement.

“It feels so good to return to “normal” after the past two years,” said Lane Glenn, Northern Essex president. “We know how important it is to our students to walk across the commencement stage and receive their well-earned diploma. They and their families appreciate the pageantry of our traditional ceremony, which they will be able to experience again this year.”

This year’s featured speaker will be Dr. Eric Dickson ’88.

Dr. Eric Dickson ’88, CEO, UMass Memorial Health, NECC’s 2022 Commencement Speaker

Dr. Dickson is now a physician and CEO of Worcester’s UMass Memorial Health, the third largest health care system in Massachusetts, employing over 16,500 individuals, but, in the late 1980’s, he was a respiratory care student at Northern Essex, who was unsure of what direction his future would take and open to guidance.

Dr. Daniel Coleman of Andover, a pulmonologist and medical advisor to the college’s Respiratory Care Program for the past 35 years, recognized the young man’s potential and suggested he consider becoming a physician.

“He (Dr. Coleman) was the first person in my life who recommended that I go to medical school and become a doctor. His mere suggestion in that moment started my career trajectory, which culminated in my current role…I’ll always be grateful for Dr. Coleman’s encouragement that led me to where I am today.”

After earning his associate degree in respiratory care from Northern Essex in 1988, he went on to get a master’s degree from Harvard University and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

In addition to the featured speaker, there will be a student speaker selected by faculty and staff and awards will be presented including the Outstanding Alumni Award, Social Justice Award, and Emeritus.

To learn more about Northern Essex’s 60th Annual Commencement Ceremony, visit the website.

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.