Student Shares His Experience with the Promise Program on Behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2023) – Northern Essex Community College biology student Patrick Sainato is no stranger to hard work. He served as class president at Haverhill High School for three years, and in his senior year, he decided also to take on Early College classes at Northern Essex. Upon graduating from high school, Sainato enrolled at NECC using the Haverhill Promise Program, which allows Early College students to continue their education at Northern Essex tuition-free.
“The Promise Program is one of the many incentives as to why I stayed here. My parents aren’t really paying for my college, so I have to figure it out on my own,” says Sainato.
He remains a dedicated advocate for his peers, too. Sainato served as the Vice President of the Haverhill Campus for the Student Government Association and works as an Early College Policy Fellow for the Massachusetts Alliance of Early College (MA4EC). The fellowship has allowed him several opportunities to share his experience as an early college student with speaking engagements across the state. Recently, his managers at MA4EC presented him with a new opportunity: serving on a panel at a conference focused on early college hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “I got a call one morning from my boss and asked if I would be interested, and I was like, ‘Hands down, yes! I’m going!’”
Sainato traveled to Washington, D.C., for the conference in early April. There, he shared his story and answered questions from attendees on the benefits of the Promise Program.
“I hope that the attendees, and the large companies that they represent, took away from my story that the students in high school and college are their future employees and that we deserve to be heard and valued,” he says. “Far too often, whether it be in school or working one or more jobs simultaneously, their wants and needs are not met. This leads to high turnover rates, burnout, depression, and many other negative outcomes.”
Sainato says he already sees change happening. He was approached by several of the attendees and asked about working on side projects or participating in further interviews. “Overall, it was a really inspiring experience, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so big and to have my opinion valued and heard. If there is one thing that I would take away from the conference, it’s that students need to be more involved in the government. The adults making decisions about how to form our education system should have a direct line of communication to those who are going through it.”
Sainato is on track to graduate with his associate degree in biology in the spring of 2024. He plans to transfer to UMass Dartmouth and eventually medical school to become a physician.
You can learn more about Early College and the promise programs offered at Northern Essex by visiting the webpage.