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In May 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched “29 Who Shine,” a commencement season awards program to recognize 29 outstanding student graduates from the Commonwealth’s public higher education system. Each honoree from a community college, state university or University of Massachusetts campus is nominated by a faculty or staff member, or by a university awards committee.

NECC “29 Who Shine” Recipients

Chelsea Daigle
Chelsea Daigle – 2022 Award Winner

A 2021 graduate of Haverhill HS, Chelsea participated in the Early College Program and transferred the 40 credits she earned to NECC, where she was part of the Haverhill Promise Program. According to Janel D’Agata-Lynch, who nominated Chelsea, she “has a strong understanding of the need for systematic change to increase diversity and equity.” An NECC civic scholar, she has been active on campus with Students for a Democratic Society, the Observer, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and Parnassus. She has also been active in the community, interning with the Katrina Hobbs-Everett campaign for Haverhill City Council; leading middle school diversity education workshops and training new leaders for V.I.P. (Violence Intervention and Prevention); and working with the Merrimack Valley NACCP to create a new NACCP Youth Council. Chelsea plans to continue her education in preparation for a career in education.

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Yashana Leigh Rivera
Yashana Leigh Rivera – 2021 Award Winner

Why Yashana Shines: Yashana is deeply engaged with her community in Lawrence, crossing cultural and linguistic barriers as she worked with new immigrants and cared for English-language learners. With an interest in public education as well as public health, Yashana served in AmeriCorps, providing 800+ K-6 students with social/emotional learning opportunities, promoting health through positive play. Throughout the pandemic, she has worked part-time as a medical assistant providing rapid COVID testing; volunteered with The Movement Family, an organization helping the homeless by delivering meals and COVID care packages; and volunteered with the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s (GLFHC) vaccine roll-out.

Academic Profile: Major in Nursing; Dean’s list every semester

Future Plans: Pass nursing boards; Earn master’s degree; Become a family nurse practitioner.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Yashana chose to recognize Brienna Woodworth, Nursing Faculty.“Brienna has served as a support system and mentor to me. Her office hours were a safe space to get help with academics and so much more. She encourages student creativity, allowing us to shine in ways that go beyond exam scores. I am grateful that Brie has seen my potential, encouraged me and created an environment that has allowed me to thrive.”

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Rosanna Lara
Rosanna Lara – 2020 Award Winner

Rosanna is a first-generation college student who has demonstrated tremendous strength, grit and ability to overcome obstacles. She went from being a laid-off mother of three to a straight A college student. Instead of wallowing in self-pity after being laid-off from her job, she maximized her unemployment benefits to gain new skills needed for high demand career opportunities. She specifically chose her degree in Public Health and the Community Health Worker Certificate program to prepare for jobs in the fast-growing healthcare field. Her goal of providing a better life for her family continues to motivate Rosanna as she completes her program and prepares to transfer to Regis College for her bachelor’s degree. In addition to her stellar academic performance, she has also been very active on campus as a member in the PACE Program, the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS.) She is the 2019 recipient of the Community Health Worker High Honors Excellence Award and the PACE Academic Achievement Award. She is a work study student and has another off-campus job to help support her family.

Tyler David Giulio Evan
Tyler David Giulio Evan – 2019 Award Winner

This month Tyler graduates with not one, but two degrees from Northern Essex: computer science transfer and information technology. The 2016 Pentucket High School grad was first introduced to NECC through the early college program. Despite his young age, he offered valuable assistance to his fellow students, first as a supplemental instructor and then a computer science tutor. The West Newbury resident also volunteered his time to present to Northern Essex’s College of Older Learners (CoOL) on the basics of computer security. Last summer, while interning in the cybersecurity office of the Food & Drug Administration, he designed a monitoring tool app that is still used today. Tyler will continue to UMass Lowell to earn a bachelor’s in computer and information sciences. Eventually, he hopes to return to the FDA either as a cybersecurity specialist or software designer.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Tyler chose to recognize Adrianna Holden-Gouveia, Professor of Computer Information Science. “Every Professor I’ve had at NECC has left a profound impact on my development as a student and professional. Among them, Adrianna always went the extra mile to sate my limitless curiosity, and ensure I was the best student I could be. I’m incredibly grateful for all that she has done.”

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Jinette Galarza
Jinette Galarza – 2018 Award Winner

Jinette moved from Puerto Rico to Lawrence when she was 10 years old and joined the workforce after high school to help support her family. A spiritual person, Jinette has served as a church youth leader and participated in missionary trips to poverty-stricken areas of Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, China, and Western Sahara. Through this work, Jinette discovered she had a talent and passion for teaching and decided to pursue a career as a history teacher. Even while working full time as a sterile processing technician for a hospital in Methuen and attending school full time, she is a leader on campus, participating in the college’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, as a Student Orientation Leader, and as a Presidential Ambassador. In the fall, Jinette will begin her studies toward a bachelor’s in history with a minor in Arabic studies at UMass Lowell, where she’s been invited to participate in the Commonwealth Honors College. She plans to continue on for a master’s in education and, when she graduates, hopes to teach in her home city of Lawrence, where, she says “the necessity is great, and there is great potential in our Lawrence youth.”

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jinette chose to recognize Sarah Courchesne, DVM, Associate Professor, Natural Sciences. “Dr. Courchesne helped me lead the way through times when darkness and uncertainty overshadowed my vision to a bright future. She repeatedly rearranged her schedule to make time for me. I am thankful that God brought her into my life not only as my mentor, but also as my friend.”

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Klinbert A. Garcia
Klinbert A. Garcia – 2017 Award Winner

Twenty-year-old Klinbert Garcia was born in the Dominican Republic and learned English by watching cartoons. He has consistently made the Dean’s List at Northern Essex Community College while also serving as the elected student representative to the College’s Board of Trustees, math tutor and supplemental instructor in statistics. Interning with the Lawrence Family Resource Center, he helped at-risk high school students who were struggling with issues such as mental illness, teen parenthood, and homelessness find ways to complete a high school degree despite their challenges.

Klinberg transfers to UMass Boston to earn a Business Management degree. A budding entrepreneur, he wants to start his own company selling recycled clothing to developing countries.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Klinbert chose to recognize Amy Patricia Callahan, Professor and Program coordinator, Journalism/Communication. “Professor Callahan’s influence equals the influence of the sun’s UV rays for life here on Earth. It all started with the experience of taking Professor Callahan’s Intro to Communication class, where my inner critical thinking was drawn out through the passion and experience Professor Callahan brought to class every day.”

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Carlos B. Rivera
Carlos B. Rivera – 2016 Award Winner

After struggling through Lawrence High School, Carlos turned a corner academically at Northern Essex and discovered a talent for helping others. In the past year and a half, he has become one of the college’s most sought-after tutors, starting as an embedded tutor in the math lab and now serving as a supplemental instructor in algebra and trigonometry. He has devoted time during the summer months to tutoring students at Lawrence schools, and assisted with the college’s Summer Bridge Program for at-risk high school graduates transitioning to college. Carlos also is a student assistant in the College Success Center, helping students—primarily Latino students—with math, algebra and biology. Carlos also finds the time to volunteer in the community—with Cor Unum in Lawrence and Open Heart Ministry in Haverhill—and at the college running the clock at college basketball games. He will continue his studies at UMass Lowell, where he will major in biology and psychology. He hopes to attend medical school and become a neurosurgeon.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Carlos chose to recognize Maureen Saliba, Assistant Athletic Director. “Maureen has always been someone I’ve looked up to. She maintains a calm and happy vibe that enhances my ability to handle stressful situations. She has also introduced me to opportunities and people on campus that helped me grow as a student and person. For Maureen, I am grateful. ”

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Justin E. Merced
Justin E. Merced – 2015 Award Winner

After proudly serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, Justin arrived at Northern Essex to pursue education for a career in health care. He quickly emerged as both an honors student and a student leader, serving as Vice President of the Student Senate and helping to rejuvenate the Veteran’s Services Club. In 2013 he organized the first Veterans Day luncheon to honor fellow campus vets, an event so successful that it is now held annually. Justin will attend Rutgers University as a biology/premed major In the fall.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Justin chose to recognize Lenny Cavallaro, Adjunct Faculty, English. “Professor Lenny Cavallaro: a stalwart instructor, an ironical wiz, and the person that motivated me early in my academic career to go further than what I thought I was capable of. We’ve remained in contact for over two years now, and I feel his mentorship has been paramount to my academic success.”

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Nairoby Altagracia Sanchez
Nairoby Altagracia Sanchez – 2014 Award Winner

In her first year at Northern Essex, Nairoby served as vice president of the Student Senate (she’s now president), and president of the college’s chapter of Amnesty International. She also organized fellow students to volunteer with cleanup from Hurricane Sandy in New York. After learning that many NECC students were struggling to afford textbooks, Nairoby started a campus textbook lending library to help students and raise awareness of the issue of textbook affordability. As a result, a college-wide textbook task force was formed, and both the library and financial aid office now have textbook lending libraries for students. She plans to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in political science.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Nairoby chose to recognize Stephen Russell, Ph.D., Professor of History and Government, Department of Global Studies. “Since attending Northern Essex, Steve Russell has been instrumental in my growth as a person and student. He has been massively supportive in all of my endeavors, and that support is an enormous factor in me being chosen as one of the 29 rising stars.”

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Liliana Brand, Professor, Math Department
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Mark Patrick Hargreaves
Mark Patrick Hargreaves – 2013 Award Winner

When Mark was laid off from his job at a forklift company, he decided it was time to pursue his dream of obtaining a college education. Entering Northern Essex Community College 15 years after graduating from high school, he excelled in his studies while also serving as a supplemental instructor, tutor, and study session leader for students enrolled in computer science courses. Mark plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science part time while working full time as an information technology or networking administrator. His first child is due in October. A budding entrepreneur, Mark hopes to develop a networking business and holds patents for computer inventions that he would like to market.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Mark chose to recognize Russell Gouveia, Professor, Computer Science. “Professor Gouveia illuminated a path and provided me a direction to build upon my current skill set so that I may succeed in Information Technologies. His knowledge and teaching style engages a class. I will carry the lessons he has passed on to me for the rest of my days.”

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Liliana Brand, Professor, Math Department
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Herinell Linares
Herinell Linares – 2012 Award Winner

Herinell Linares was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S. in 2006. He spoke no English and, as soon as he was eligible, signed up for ESL classes at NECC. He developed a passion for engineering and persevered despite the challenges of higher-level math classes. Herinell has attended college while working full time as a security guard at a Lawrence apartment building and also as a banquet server for the Windham Hotel. Two nights a week, he works the night shift, comes home and sleeps four hours, and then reports to class. Herinell will study electrical engineering at UMass Lowell.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Liliana Brand, Professor, Math Department
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