New Student Trustee Will Focus on Building Community
There was a time when Northern Essex Community College psychology major Zeke Vasquez would go to class and then immediately return to his home in Methuen. He was focused on trying to get the hang of being a college student and hadn’t considered getting involved with extracurricular activities. But a fateful encounter with outgoing Student Trustee Sarah Pachano changed that.
“I met Sarah, and she told me about the Student Government Association and the need to get more students involved,” he remembers. “I started attending a lot of meetings and then I started going to more events.”
Vasquez said he also learned the importance of student advocacy from Pachano and decided to run to be the next student representative to the college Board of Trustees. He was elected this past May and officially starts his term on July 1.
The Student Trustee additionally serves as a Member-at-Large to the Student Government Association (SGA). Vasquez says in these roles, he sees many opportunities to get students more involved and increase a sense of belonging on NECC’s campuses.
“I want to really make the school feel like a community. I spoke with a lot of students to get them to vote in the election. And the biggest complaint was it just felt like they were going to classes. But there are a lot of things going on here.”
Vasquez envisions getting more students involved in those clubs and activities that already exist and adding some new events like open mic nights or homecoming activities. He also wants to look for ways to create more spaces for students to socialize in, such as a game room in Lawrence or an outdoor study area in Haverhill. He believes the key is getting other students more active in the planning process.
“We need to give them a reason to get involved. We can set up programs and events, but we need to make students feel like they should be going.”
Vasquez says he’s seen first-hand how getting more involved can help students succeed in all aspects of their college journey. He participates in the PACE and SOAR programs, both of which offer additional support services to students who need it most. “When you find people you’re closer with, it’s easier to ask for help and figure out what you can do,” he says.
These days, Vasquez says he’s on campus practically all day long. He enjoys attending events like Spring Jam and NECC Theater productions and hopes he can be a familiar face for his fellow students. He’s looking forward to working with them and college leaders this next year.
“Sarah showed me how to get involved and that’s something I want to share with other students, too.”
The NECC Board of Trustees includes nine members whom the governor of the state appoints to a maximum of two five-year terms, as well as an alumni-elected member, who also serves a maximum of ten years, and a student trustee who serves for two semesters. Vasquez’s term will last through June 30, 2024.