NECC Observer

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

Success stories behind the pandemic: NECC’s financial aid department

Success Stories Behind the Pandemic    There have been so many adjustments taking place here at the school due to the pandemic. In every area and in different departments that I decided to check in on the Financial Aid department to find out how things were going with them amidst the transition.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Orquidea Taveras Sr. Financial Aid Counselor.

Orquidea said the transition was challenging at first working from home. It was even more difficult for the students because the students were used to walking into the office and they could speak with a financial aid counselor one on one. Prior to COVID-19, there was a lot of traffic in the office, Orquidea says.

With the office transitions and the financial aid department having to work online it helped the students to become more independent instead of walking into the office, she said.

I asked Orquidea if student enrollment was down because of the pandemic, and she said that enrollment did suffer some but that we are one of the schools that transitioned very well in the pandemic.

The numbers were not as good as they were before the pandemic, but they were not that bad either. A lot of people did not go to school in the fall because of the constraints however, she says the future looks very good.

The positives that Orquidea saw in all the changes is that the school was able to help students who did not have or were not able to afford a laptop, get one.

Orquidea sees the laptop program as one of the success stories of the school despite the pandemic.

The laptop program was a program that the school initially had in place to help students who did not have a computer.

The program would lend the laptops out to the students however they would run into trouble when they ran out of computers to give out.

They would also run into problems when the students did not meet the requirements under the lending program.

She said, the monies that came from the Cares Act helped students. Students that came out of high school did not have a computer and “we as college wanted to do something about it,” she said.

Orquidea credited the laptop program as an enormous success, and she said that it was very much needed.