NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Mike Prescott, the Renaissance man

By Duane Sherman

Over the decades, NECC has seen many gifted athletes on it’s campus. To find one that also has the ability to sing and enjoys working with the homeless would be rare. It would make that individual a bit of a renaissance man. Meet 28-year-old Mike Prescott, who is from from North Andover.

Prescott is a man of many talents, and he shares them with all that come into contact with him.

When students pass Prescott in the halls, they have no idea that he is a gifted athlete with a shining past. He started participating in the Special Olympics at the young age of 5 years old. Since that time, he has taken home over 50 medals from the ceremonies. Prescott’s infectious smile shows his pride in winning all of them. He excels at relay races and track and field.

Prescott can also nail the 3-point basketball shots. It’s a specialty of his, and he has the gold, silver and bronze medallions to prove it. You can be certain that he keeps them all shined up.

“My participation in the games has made me happy and proud,” said Prescott. He found a girlfriend at the games as well.

Prescott is not a student of NECC, but rather a participant of a program called ‘Opportunity Works,’ that has a relationship with the college. The program helps to ready it’s participants for the real world, preparing them to understand it with real work experience.

The program allows the individual to assimilate easier into the daily tasks of life. Prescott is one of the standouts of ‘Opportunity Works.’

“This is a great fit for all of Mike’s potential,” said Jamie Nadeau, who serves as Project Search coordinator for the program. “This also helps to keep him in his peer group,” said Nadeau.

The program lasts 30 weeks, breaking individual assignments into three 10 week positions around the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses. Prescott’s first assignment was with campus security. There, he manned the security desk in the Spurk building and walked the beat of the parking lots, looking for offenders that had parked illegally, or were in a handicapped spot without a placard or proper license plate.

“Mike did an excellent job with us. He was very motivated. He just jumped right into it,” said Dan Tirone, Operations Commander for Public Safety on the NECC campus. “I wish all of my guys were as motivated as Mike.”

Prescott felt right at home in the ranks of security. He loves the law. In fact, two of his favorite shows are ‘Judge Judy’ and ‘Cops.’

When his time with security was up and he was ready for the next position, Prescott, a known prankster with a sense of humor, was given a special pizza party. The members of NECC security turned the tables and served him up a still wrapped, frozen pizza.

In all actuality, there was a stack of fresh hot ones in the next room for everyone to enjoy. Prescott felt like one of the guys and knew that they all appreciated what he had done for them.

The second assignment put Prescott in the middle of the food world, landing him a spot in Jitters Campus Cafe in the Spurk Building. This pleased him. If there is one thing that he knows, it’s his way around a kitchen.

“I’m into the culinary arts. It comes from watching Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network,” said Prescott. The TV chef brought some ‘BAM!’ into his life.

The previous program that Prescott was involved with allowed him to shop and cook for himself. Lobster, clams and scallops wrapped in bacon are on his list of seafood delights. He dreams of his own restaurant one day. Prescott has a strong enough work ethic to run one.

“I don’t sit around. I go to the cafe to work and I do whatever is asked of me,” said Prescott.

Chef Barry Towle, who is also the manager at Jitters, said, “Mike is a hard worker and he has a good head on his shoulders. He really tries at everything that comes his way.”

Previously, through the Opportunity Works program, Prescott has been able to serve meals to the homeless at an area Salvation Army shelter. This meant a lot to him. He takes great pride in his ability to serve his community in that manner.

“Mike is gracious and grateful for all that he has,” said Jamie Nadeau. “He is generous and was overjoyed to serve lunch to the homeless.”

Of course, it’s not all work for Prescott. He’s been to Fenway Park to see the Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles. That was a reward for setting a weight loss goal and achieving it. Prescott earns his way through life.

“It was incredible the first time that I walked into Fenway Park. I came up the cement stairs and there it was. It’s so big and green. I was happy that I got to see Big Papi play,” said Prescott.

A true sports fan, Prescott gets excited when he thinks about the giant confetti cannons at Gillette Stadium, where he saw his favorite player, Tom Brady play. He remembers the multicolored confetti raining down on him when Brady made a touchdown pass.

Prescott’s other hobby is something that he is equally as passionate about, music. A few years back, his mother and stepfather gave him one of his most cherished Christmas gifts. It was tickets to see the Backstreet Boys reunion show at Boston Garden. It even included a limousine ride to and from the show. He still glows when he discusses the evening out. It’s that infectious smile of his that sets you at ease.

“That was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Prescott.

Mike Prescott is not just an avid music listener, he is also a performer with a choral group called ‘Playing Among the Stars’.

“Mike thrives in the limelight,” said Nadeau. “He has no fear. He recruits others to learn about projects. He doesn’t mind speaking in public. Still, he is a sensitive individual.”

The group does performances on a regular basis. Prescott has been a member for the past 3 years and has taken part in many of the shows. The music ranges from Broadway hits to holiday music. They usually do the concerts with pre-recorded music, but have played with live musicians.

Nadeau said that Prescott will take away experience and a new found confidence when he completes the program.

“He will have made connections that could only be made here,” said Nadeau. She is uncertain where he will finish out his third 10 week assignment. He may serve it at the Lawrence campus. One thing is for certain, wherever and whatever that may be, Mike Prescott will do his best with a smile on his face.