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NECC Celebrates 400 Early College Students

Submitted by on June 5, 2023 – 4:16 pm

Haverhill, MA (June 5, 2023) – Four hundred and ten graduating seniors from 27 local high schools earned college credits in addition to their high school diplomas this year as participants in Northern Essex Community College’s Early College Program.

Student Government Association President, Franziska Hoene, was one of seven high school students who also earned associate degrees.

The students, along with their families, celebrated at a May 11 Early College Recognition Ceremony, held under a tent on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus.

The students earned a total of 7,100 credits while in high school, an average of 17 credits each, which translates to a full college semester.  The students will transfer their credits to 45 different public and private colleges. Seventy-five have elected to attend Northern Essex in the fall. Many are part of local promise programs which allow them to continue their education at NECC tuition-free.

Seven students graduated with both associate degrees and their high school diplomas this year, having completed two full years of college while still in high school. That group includes Franziska Hoene and Edward Hoene of Woburn; Ryan Rothberg and Olivia Hansen of Newburyport; Hailey Cameron of Merrimac; Kyla Dolan of Groveland; and Gianna McColley of Haverhill.

Russell Leung was selected as the Early College Student Speaker. The Haverhill High School graduate started taking college courses during his junior year. “It was a great opportunity to not only take different classes but to learn responsibility,” he reflected. “You had to show up on time, and you were treated like an adult. We learned to advocate for ourselves.” Leung will attend Northeastern University this fall, where he plans to major in computer science.

Haverhill’s Russell Leung delivered the student address.

NECC is one of 22 colleges and universities participating in the statewide Massachusetts Early College Initiative, which partners high schools with colleges and universities for designated programs between them. NECC has designated programs with Haverhill High School, Lawrence High School, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Students from these designated programs earn college credits for free while they’re still in high school. Plus, the classes count toward both students’ high school graduation requirements and their future college degrees. Students spend part of their day at the high school and travel to the college campus by bus for morning or afternoon college-level courses.

And because the Early College program also includes “pathways” that mimic college majors, including business, criminal justice, healthcare, and education, students can experience the rigors and culture of college while also getting a taste of their possible major.

In addition to its state-designated partnerships with Haverhill, Lawrence, and Whittier, Northern Essex offers its Early College Program to students from 25 other local high schools. These students can earn credits at a 50% discount.

If you are interested in learning more about Early College opportunities at NECC, contact