Menu button
Home » Commencement 2024, Mobile, Students & Alumni

Graduate Plans to Help Teens Map Out Their Futures

Submitted by on July 8, 2024 – 12:55 pm

Like many people, Josh Buffum, 23, of Haverhill, was on a different life trajectory before the pandemic. Although he studied plumbing at Whittier Tech, he found that working in that field wasn’t his true passion.

“Once COVID hit, I realized that plumbing just wasn’t for me,” he said.

So, at age 20, he decided to return to college and follow his longtime dream of being a teacher.

“I wanted to actually pursue what I wanted to do,” he said.

Joshua Buffum and his mother, Cynthia, following Commencement

Buffum graduated with a degree in Educational Studies this spring and says he found incredible academic success along the way, regularly making the Dean’s List and earning a 3.52 GPA while working full-time at the Haverhill YMCA. This fall, he’ll transfer to Salem State University to continue his studies in education.

Buffum still remembers his very first class—English Comp I—on his very first day at NECC.

“It felt weird to me,” he said. “It was nerve-racking to go do my first class, being back in school after taking almost three years off.”

Indeed, he struggled a bit that first semester. He had not only been away from the classroom for several years, but was trying to juggle two jobs along with his full-time studies.

Eventually, he gave up one of his jobs and found additional support through NECC’s Pathways to Academic & Career Excellence Program (PACE), a TRiO Student Support Services program that assists first-generation, low-income, or disabled students to graduate and transfer to four-year colleges.

“They helped me out a lot in the long run,” he said of the PACE program.

Buffum not only found his groove in school, but said NECC helped hone his focus on a career in education.

“It helped me really understand a lot of what it is to be a teacher,” he said of NECC. “I think you really have to have the heart and soul of being one.”

He points especially to one of his own teachers, Donna Tanner, coordinator of the NECC’s Educational Studies Program, as well as his work at the YMCA with kids of all ages, from “little ones” to the teens he’s mentored.

Now, he’s applying all of those skills toward his goal of being a teacher—preferably 11th grade history so he can help students during their crucial junior year as they’re mapping out their own futures—and eventually moving into guidance.

As he reflects on his time at NECC, Buffum said he’ll “miss the connections with the teachers I had.”

Perhaps one day, his own students will say the same thing about him.

Written by Alexandra Pecci ’02