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Pandemic had a Silver Lining for These Two NECC 2022 Grads

Submitted by on May 3, 2022 – 2:51 pm


Jenna Joseph (left) and Sydney Sampson are both graduating from the Lab Science Program with high honors and plans to transfer to UMass Lowell.

Haverhill and Lawrence, MA (May 4, 2022)-When their jobs in the hospitality field ended abruptly in March of 2020, due to COVID-19, Jenna Joseph of Methuen and Sydney Sampson of Haverhill, both single parents, pivoted, enrolling in Northern Essex Community College’s Lab Science Program in the hopes of pursuing more stable careers.

Now, just over two years later, the two are preparing to graduate, both with high honors, jobs and internship opportunities, and plans to continue their education in the clinical lab science program at UMass Lowell.

Joseph graduated from Tewksbury Memorial High School in 2012 and she attended two colleges after high school but neither clicked. Up until the pandemic, she was working as a bartender and she and her now three-year old daughter were living with her parents.

“I knew I wanted to go back to school, and, with the pandemic, it was my opportunity,” she says. “I wanted to set an example for her and also have a job where I could be working when she’s in school.”

Jenna Joseph, 2022 Lab Science Grad

Joseph has a perfect 4.0 GPA and her hard work has led to two job offers—she’s accepted a position working in the lab at Lowell General.

Lab Science is a perfect fit for Joseph who has always been interested in the medical field, but not so much patient care. “I’m still helping people get a diagnosis,” she says.

Sampson, the mother of two boys, three and 10-years old, had been working as a cook at the Haverhill Country Club before the pandemic. She grew up in Florida and dropped out of high school her junior year, so was returning to school at 30 years old after more than a decade out of the classroom. “It was really hard at first but it got easier,” she says. “I began to look forward to it. I cried when I picked up my gap and gown. I never thought I would see that day.”

She always loved science so, when choosing a major, that’s what she gravitated toward. What clinched the decision was Pfizer’s development of a COVID vaccination. “Their ability to come up with a vaccine so quickly inspired me. Working for a company like that is my ultimate goal.”

Sampson will soon start an externship with HepatoChem in Beverly and she has been offered a full time position after the externship. She will be working with metabolites, which are necessary for the metabolic system.

Like Joseph, she plans to continue in the clinical lab science program at UMass Lowell and eventually go on for a master’s degree.

Sydney Sampson, 2022 Lab Science Grad

Both Joseph and Sampson credited the support that they received from their professors while in the program for their success. Professors Kevin Mitchell, Marguerite White-Jenneau and Kim Waligora, were so understanding and helpful, according to Joseph. “They make sure you pass and that you understand the material,” said Sampson.

The Laboratory Science Program at Northern Essex is a two-year program that prepares students for a laboratory career in a variety of fields, including biotechnology, environmental sciences, and analytical chemistry. The program includes an externship and graduates secure jobs in medical facilities, forensics, or quality control in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical manufacturing, and environmental industries.

For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Mitchell, program coordinator, 978 556-3343 or

To learn more about the May 14 Commencement, visit the website.