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New Grad First Met NECC Faculty When They Visited the Dominican Republic

Submitted by on June 3, 2024 – 2:35 pm

When Anthony Severino, 22, of Lawrence, was about 14 years old and a student at Liceo Cientifico Dr. Miguel Canela Lázaro, a prestigious public school in the Dominican Republic, members of Northern Essex Community College faculty visited the school on a professional development trip. Severino and his sister, Ashley, met the NECC faculty and gave them a tour.

Anthony and Ashley Severino with NECC Professor Doris Buckley at their high school in the Dominican Republic.

Severino had no way of knowing that just a few years later, he’d graduate from NECC with a business transfer degree, be honored by the NECC Business Honor Society, and be one of the recipients of a highly selective state educators’ scholarship.

“It’s really surreal,” Severino said of the incredible, full-circle moment.

After spending the first 11 years of his life in Brooklyn, Severino and his family relocated to his parents’ native Dominican Republic. When he and his sister had the chance to move back to the United States—without their parents—in 2022, they took the opportunity, even though they knew it would be a tough transition.

“It was a make-or-break decision,” he said. “That was the hardest thing, knowing we would not live with our parents anymore.”

But Severino took the leap, moving to Lawrence, enrolling at NECC, and getting a part-time job.

It wasn’t easy, though.

“I remember feeling the sense of loneliness and feeling isolated,” he said. “When I moved here, I did not know one single person. I had actually never even been to Lawrence before I moved here.”

That wasn’t the only road bump that Severino faced. He tried taking on a full-time job, but balancing work and full-time school hurt his academics, and he ended up failing one of his classes.

Severino poses with his NECC diploma at Commencement

“Me failing that class was a real eye-opener,” he said. He realized that school needed to be his main priority and decided “to give all my undivided attention to Northern Essex.”

That’s exactly what he did. Now, he plans to transfer to a four-year program at UMass Lowell, where he will study business administration.

He also credits the PACE program with helping him every step of the way. PACE stands for Pathways to Academic & Career Excellence Program. The TRiO Student Support Services program assists first-generation, low-income, or disabled students to graduate and transfer to four-year colleges.

“They care about each and every student,” he said. “It gives you the opportunity to embrace that college life.”

As he embarks on yet another new chapter, he can’t help feeling emotional as he looks back on his time at NECC.

“I’ve had the most amazing two years,” he said. “I would not take it back for anything in the world.”

This story was written by Alexandra Pecci