NECC Observer

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

Tarah MacGregor: A Face of NECC

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23-year-old Tarah MacGregor has been a student at Northern Essex for five years. Her ready smile has made her popular among the students and faculty, and you can often hear her laughing in the hallways as she goes about her many projects.

McGregor has taken her college experience to a higher level by getting involved in activities that she is passionate about. Home-schooled until age 13, MacGregor loves science and travel. The latter passion drew her to Italy, Belize and Ecuador with the study abroad program, which is directed by professor Marcy Yeager.

“I’ve been on more trips with Marcy than any other student,” MacGregor laughed.

Besides annual international trips, MacGregor supplements her NECC education as the student ambassador for the honors experience. As such, she works closely with Honors Coordinator Ginger Hurajt, as well as all the other honors students, to help facilitate the most rewarding experience for everyone involved. McGregor has the outgoing personality needed to fill this role as the honors committee representative, and she infects those around her with positive energy.

The Honors Experience is designed to boost a student’s academic standing by allowing any class to be designated as an honors class with the completion of an additional project related to that subject. The project is self-directed, but must be approved by Hurajt and the class professor.

MacGregor stressed that while the project has to relate to the subject, there is a lot of freedom for a student to choose whatever might be interesting to them and relate it to the class material. The student works closely with the professor throughout the semester to develop a research paper and project that will be presented at the end of the semester to both the class and the honors board. The class then appears on the student’s transcript as an honors class. Along with two honors classes, the honor student will participate in a poster session, an honors colloquium and a service learning project.

MacGregor is very familiar with what it takes to successfully complete the program. She said that the requirements are not really overwhelming, but she recommends that people fulfill only one requirement per semester and spread it out over three semesters. She said, “I always tell people to work a couple of hours a week writing or researching, since they have the whole semester, and they will be fine.”

As an honors experience student herself, MacGregor has taken some of the honors colloquium classes. These are mixed-discipline classes, some of which repeat and others that are offered for only one semester, depending on student interest. MacGregor said that the classes that focus on composition and the sciences tend to be well attended, including Women and Mythical Literature, taught by Hurajt. Other classes which heavily examine issues of philosophy and psychology — such as The Pursuit of Happiness and Searching for Euphoria — may only draw a handful of students and run for one semester only.

“It’s important for new students to find out about (the Honors Experience) right away,” said MacGregor. “Some will only be here for four semesters, and they need three of them to complete this.” The completion rate for students taking two or more honors requirements in the same semester are significantly lower. “Maybe only about 40 percent,” MacGregor said.

Scholarships are among the benefits of completing the program, as is guaranteed acceptance into the honors program at any Massachusetts university when transferring. Honor scholars have their own lounge on campus with a computer and printer and they receive special recognition at graduation.

More information about the Honors Experience can be found at www.necc.mass.edu/academics/enrichment/honors/, or you can visit their Facebook page at Northern Essex Community College: Honors Experience. Messages left on that page will be directed to Hurajt or MacGregor. For more information about the study abroad program, go to www.necc.mass.edu/academics/enrichment/study-abroad/ or contact Marcy Yeager, myeager@necc.mass.edu.

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