U-Knighted: Involvement Resource Fair highlights community programs

Two women sitting at a table
Left to right Carlie Hornbrook of Emmaus and Hayley Jenkerson, Volunteer and In-Kind Donations Manager at Emmaus Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

NECC (Northern Essex Community College) goes above and beyond with educating and providing support to the needs of students with the U-Knighted Involvement Resource Fair. 

On Oct. 11 students were able to meet with the many different programs that represented the Haverhill community and to not only assist with support surrounding education but provide well-being resources such as food and shelter, along with public safety.

The U-Knighted Involvement Resource Fair hosted several different depts and organizations that were either on campus or within the Haverhill community. 

This brought awareness to students and staff of the many different programs that NECC has access to and that are available to assist the students in many different areas. 

The fair was located at the Spurk building on the first and second floor hallways of the C building. 

 Here are some of the depts and organizations I chatted with about the services and support they offered. 

I began with the NECC Alumni Office.

NECC Alumni Office

 NECC Alumni Office was introducing NECC Connect. Representing the Alumni Office were Shana Murrell, the director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving and Sarah Comiskey, Assistant Director of Annual Giving & Stewardship. In speaking with Comiskey, she informed me that NECC Connect was a new way that has been provided for students to ask questions. The students would be matched with alumni that are best suited to respond to them based on the type of questions they ask. It is an A.I. platform, said Comiskey. It is a good tool for expanding reach as a means of helping to communicate faster. In order to access the service, you would need to copy the QR code.

A man standing and a man sitting at a table
Left to Right Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety David Hobbs & Lieutenant Keith Walker. Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes


YWCA of Northeastern MA Haverhill branch was here at NECC representing the branch in Haverhill. Renee McGuire was there in support of providing services in the areas of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The services are free and confidential for women, men, and adolescents. They provide crisis intervention, individual/group counseling, police & court advocacy, healthy relationship education for youth, professional workshops and trainings, 24-hour sexual assault advocacy, prevention programs and referrals. YWCA Haverhill branch is on Winter Street.


 Matthew Desmond explained that the program worked with children in the Lawerence and Lowell areas to build literacy skills. The program focuses on literacy and social emotional skills for preschoolers and helps prepare children from underserved communities for kindergarten and beyond. Desmond stated that they were looking to hire people who love working with kids and are interested in making a difference in the community. The program offers a work study for students and if students complete 300 hours of service, they will get an education award to be used towards education. If interested apply at https://my.jstart.org/apply/


Emmaus is a program for students and families in need. I spoke with Hayley Jenkerson, Volunteer and In-Kind Donations Manger. 

She stated that the Emmaus house provides affordable housing for families. They offer emergency shelter programs for families and individuals. They offer permanent affordable housing. Emmaus has a food and distribution program. They are looking for volunteers to cook and to help in the food pantry. Emmaus is on Winter Street in Haverhill.

A man sitting at a table
Matthew Desmond of Jumpstart. Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

SOAR (Seize Opportunities, Aspire to Rise)

SOAR representatives were there to offer their support and bring awareness to the many services they offer to students. To name a few, academic support which includes coaching, individualized homework help and that also involves after hours, and assistance connecting with campus resources. SOAR is there for personal support in informative financial, personal health, and wellness activities. 

Public Safety

Representing NECC public safety was Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety David Hobbs along with Lieutenant Keith Walker. Spoke with David Hobbs NECC Chief of police. Chief Hobbs brought me up to speed regarding public safety here at NECC. Chief Dobbs stated “that they are a law enforcement dept and that public safety is provided 24/7 to both the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses. We work together with the security guards and the security guards are there overnight to check the buildings and do lock ups says, Dobbs. Included in our discussion was the importance of having a visible presence of Law enforcement on campus as well as the annual public safety report that came out September 27th. There is a more recent message was sent on October 26th.

Two women standing behind a table with informational books and posters on it.
From left to right Renee McGuire and Misty DelMonte
Representing YWCA.
. Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

Lieutenant Walker in closing added that they are working to expand the police presence on both campuses so that they have more police officer coverage in the evening hours. 

The conversation was pleasant and professional with the Chief and Lieutenant; they were thorough and clear in explaining the aily operations and needs of Public Safety for NECC. Chief Hobbs was open and encouraged that I reach out if there were suggestions that I had or anything that I thought was good for law enforcement to be involved in. NECC Police office is located at Building C.


Q & A with The Screening Room owners, Becca and Ben Fundis

The Screening Room logo  that says The Screening Room, 82 State Street Newburyport, MA
Courtesy of The Screening Room

Recently, the NECC Observer was fortunate enough to chat with the owners of The Screening Room, an independent movie theater in downtown Newburyport. Owned by Becca and Ben Fundis, this past summer, The Screening Room showed both “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie”! Check out part of our interview below!

Shaun: Walk us through the series of events that ultimately led to owning The Screening Room, from back when you had no idea you would own a movie theater, to when the transition was settled and done.

Becca: We both worked in the movie theater. We actually met working in a movie theater a long time ago, and we had wanted to work together again. During the pandemic, I was working in an opera house, Ben was working as a video editor and a friend of ours called us from Maine, and he said he was programming the theater for the owner, for the original owner, Andrew Mungo. Andrew was looking to retire. He had a deal with the actors’ studio to take over this space and continue the theater in a different way, so the theater would’ve still been there. That deal had fell through because of the pandemic when our friend contacted us and just let us know about the opportunity. On a whim, we drove out here just to check it out and meet Andrew. We wound up thinking it would be a good idea.

Ben: After visiting the area a couple of times, we learned very quickly that The Screening Room had been incredibly well-supported for a very long time by its audience, and that without the pandemic it would be in fine shape as opposed to a lot of other small theaters in America. Even before the pandemic, most small theaters weren’t necessarily doing great. So The Screening Room looked like a good and fun opportunity, and it sure mixed up our pandemic.

Becca: Halfway through when people were still inside their houses, we were moving and then finding ourselves in a new territory without knowing anyone, which was interesting and fun.

Ben: We spent the pandemic changing our lives around completely.

Shaun: Tell us about this past summer and what it was like to take part in the Barbenheimer phenomenon.

Ben: We have been asked a whole lot about “showing stuff that’s not an artsy-fartsy French movie.” We felt that these were strong movies that had, in some cases, independent cinema credibility with Greta Gerwig, the director of “Barbie.” She comes from indie cinema.

Becca: We were also looking at other arthouse theaters and they were all playing “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” We started with “Oppenheimer” during opening weekend, we weren’t sure if we were going to play, be able to play both of them. We only have one screen, so we couldn’t do them at the same time, and we thought Barbie would’ve been played out.

So, we opened “Barbie” on its fourth week thinking that we would get some people, it would be fun, but by Monday after that weekend, the opening weekend, we were selling out every single night. What we thought was going to be kind of a fun, relaxing, summer vacation became all hands on deck; we were dragging our son with us to the movie theater so we could work the shows together. It was so great to see people dress up in pink with women and men getting behind the movie and its messaging. It was really fun.

Ben: It helped us reach out to a much wider audience than what we even normally get, which was excellent. When I was in front of the audiences, I asked that since they’re coming to see these movies, we’ll show them, but you have to promise to come see a movie that’s in a foreign language or a movie with an actor whose name you don’t recognize. There’s an exchange between, wanting to get people to see the challenging stuff and bringing that wonderful aspect of cinema to a wider audience, but we want to also not be complete sticks in the mud and not be able to have some fun.

Shaun: I know The Screening Room is usually playing artsy movies and/or independent movies, so Barbenheimer was quite different from most of what The Screening Room is commonly known for among local customers. Would you consider those five weeks to be a one-and-done thing, or are you open to playing more blockbusters in the near future?

Becca: Well, I think that it’s an interesting question. During the pandemic, things shifted for theaters so much that theaters were doing whatever they could to draw audiences back once they reopened. So we started playing things from Universal and Warner Brothers. I never showed anything from Warner Brothers when I worked in an art house before, but the first movie that we reopened with, post-pandemic, which was being offered to every single movie theater, was “In the Heights,” and people came to see that. The funny thing is, what’s defined as independence is really what distributor it is coming from, who produces behind it, but it’s all perception. People didn’t question in the Heights for some reason, whereas people did question “Barbie.” However, with Greta Gerwig, Ben points out that she comes from independent cinema roots, so why is that distinction being made?

It’s not being made because of Greta Gerwig, it’s being made because of “Barbie”! The distinction on my end is really saying that arthouses traditionally deal with certain sets of distributors, and that doesn’t usually include the major studios. What you’re seeing post-pandemic is that we are arthouses, and it’s not just us. So, we’re not an anomaly, we’re not independently making this decision, we’re following other people.

Stay tuned until December 8th, when the rest of our interview will be published. In the meantime, visit The Screening Room at 82 State Street in Newburyport, where “The Holdovers” is playing  starting today, November 17th! “The Holdovers” showtimes for November 17th through November 21st can be found below. For the most up-to-date information, visit The Screning Room’s website at newburyportmovies.com.

Course exploring philosophy and film to be offered in spring

Poster advertising a philosophy through film course
Photo by Arts and Entertainment Editor Caroline Magner

With registration for the Spring 2024 semester underway, students are in the process of selecting classes that appeal to both their chosen degrees and personal interests. One course students may want to consider is Philosophy through Film, an excellent option for those interested in either or both topics.

A flier promoting the course describes it as “[Attempting] to show how philosophy can interconnect themes and ideas presented by film directors.” Main themes often discussed in the class include human freedom, personal identity, happiness, knowledge vs illusion and the meaning of life.

The course is led by professor Meredith Gunning, Ph.D.  Gunning has taught philosophy at Northern Essex for nearly 20 years, bringing her knowledge and care for the particular field of study into the classroom every day. Gunning’s evident love for philosophy is notable, possibly less notable is her love for film; that is, until the topic presents itself.

“Movies can get us thinking and feeling differently.” Gunning says, “They can deepen us.”.

According to Gunning, many of her students are accustomed to analyzing film even prior to taking this course, however, through engaging class discussions, thoughtful written responses and the reading of scholarly papers, students’ analysis skills become enhanced. 

An additional takeaway skill students can gain from the course is a deeper appreciation of films. Whether you are a person who already adores watching movies or feel somewhat indifferent to them, Philosophy through Film introduces an array of lenses to perceive films through, creating a more fulfilling movie viewing experience that will hopefully stick with students even long after the course is completed. 

Often, this is the case; Gunning admits it always brings a smile to her face when a past student reaches out to tell her about a new film they’ve seen and discuss their thoughts on it.

Films such as Her and Ex Machina are included within the course, both of which Gunning acknowledges with a humorless chuckle “don’t seem like sci-fi so much anymore.”, in reference to recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence and other technology.

“Films can be transformative in the way we even look at people.” Gunning says. As an example, she mentions 12 Years a Slave, a film that is not included in the course but Gunning encourages people to see anyway. Films, such as the aforementioned one, that highlight heartbreaking yet true events are beneficial because they approach real issues in a way that is more personal, and therefore impactful, than a textbook. 

When asked to pick a favorite film from the course, Gunning struggled to narrow it down to just one answer. However, she quickly gushed about the previous Academy Award-winning best picture, Everything Everywhere all at Once, and the emotional impact it had on her. Gunning hopes to add this film as a part of the Philosophy through Film course, saying it would fit in well while the class discusses the meaning of life.

Students who take this class can look forward to the final film of the semester: a movie of their own choosing.

Classes in the past have chosen titles such as Shawshank Redemption and Harold and Maude.

The Philosophy through Film course is offered biennially, making this possibly the only opportunity for two-year students to experience it. 

At the end of the day, Gunning says she hopes for her students to “enrich their thinking and awareness for the world around us.” after having taken her class.

‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ breaks records despite negative reviews

The new “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie is a box office hit, breaking records for horror movies. As of No. 9,  “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has grossed a worldwide total of $224.8 million according to Box Office Mojo. 

The film adaptation of the popular horror game series of the same name was estimated to earn $78 million on it’s opening weekend, in which it ended up debuting to $80 million in America and $132 million globally, according to Variety. 

The film also became the highest grossing opening weekend for Blumhouse Productions, surpassing their rendition of “Halloween” in 2018.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s,” which has been highly anticipated by fans, not only surpassed expectations at the box office. 

The film, which made $10.3 million from Thursday night previews, generated the biggest-ever gross from a simultaneous streaming release. On opening weekend, the horror movie had the second best simultaneous streaming release, behind 2021’s “Black Widow”, which grossed $80.3 million its opening weekend according to Deadline. “Five Nights at Freddy’s” was also the second highest opening for a video game movie in history, behind “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” in April also according to Deadline. 

“It’s no surprise,” said NECC student and Art and Design major Alli Palumbo, “Five Nights at Freddy’s is super popular and has tons of fans.” 

“Five Nights at Freddys,” which stars Josh Hutcherson and Matthew Lillard, follows Mike Schmidt, a nighttime security guard at an abandoned family entertainment center, Freddy Fazbears Pizza. 

However, he discovers the restaurant is overrun by deadly animatronics. The film is based on a series of video games, which have become wildly successful and have amassed a large fan base. 

A movie version of the game series has reportedly been in the works since 2015, but got delayed for various reasons, according to Blumhouse Productions. 

“The movie was really enjoyable,” said former NECC student Kate Cahill, “I liked it a lot.” 

However, despite its success at the box office, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” received mostly negative reviews from critics. 

Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 30%, with reviews averaging the movie 4.5/10. 

Other critics, including some from The Guardian and The New York Times gave the movie a 2/5, and expressed their distaste in the lack of thrills and no genuine laughs. 

Many critics also criticized the movie for the PG-13 rating. 

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Times stated that “the premise very likely would’ve made more sense as a straight-up R-rated splatter fest.” 

However, despite negative reviews, audiences seemed to love “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” giving the film an 89% on Rotton Tomatoes and an 8.1 on Metacritic. 

The film had one of the biggest critic-audience gaps ever and is almost triple to score given by critics. 

“The movie was made for fans,” Palumbo added, “The critics were not fans and didn’t understand it.” 

“Five Nights at Freddy’s released in theatres on Oct. 27, and is now streaming on Peacock. 


Zyel Silva: The story of a young real estate agent

Zyel Silva
Photo courtesy Chinatti Realty

Have you ever felt like you were put on earth for one very specific reason? For 24-year old Zyel Silva, according to his blurb on the Chinatti Realty website, this reason is “to improve the quality of the lives of those around (him).” Silva is an up and coming real estate agent based in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His charming personality and bright attitude have aided Silva in being able to sell many houses in his short time as an agent so far. He started when he was only 21, a fact that is difficult to pick up on considering his passion and dedication when discussing his profession.

When Silva is asked about what first made him think about pursuing real estate, he looks up, mind likely clouded with nostalgia from his younger years. “I saw what my dad was doing in the industry, fixing up houses and flipping them,” he says. He then shares that he knew he didn’t exactly want to follow in his father’s footsteps, believing that being an agent might be a more fitting role for him.

Silva’s first steps into the world of real estate were on what he calls “Youtube University.” 

He was able to gather information and hone in on what he specifically wanted to accomplish in the field. He is quick to cite both Ryan Serhant and Grant Cardone as inspirations in real estate. Silva specifically touches on Cardone, a “huge real estate tycoon,” and his interesting outlook on real estate, and how “he just made everything seem so possible.”

 After properly researching real estate, Silva took a 40 hour real estate class, quickly followed by the two tests required for one to get a real estate license. He made it a point to deeply look into different brokerages before picking the one that he felt was best suited for him.

Silva has a deep admiration for his profession, but is able to admit the challenges that go into what he does. He smiles when asked about potential struggles when it comes to real estate, knowing that it could be a loaded question. He simply states that “this business isn’t for everybody.” Buying or selling a house can prove to be an emotional process, whether through memories or sentimental home items. “You have to be educated on how to find creative solutions,” he said.

Silva describes that he at times feels attached to his phone, never wanting to miss calls that could come at seemingly any time, including over the weekend and later in the day. “I’m dealing with some of these people’s largest purchases of their entire lives, and that carries a lot of weight.”

Silva graciously discusses some of his proudest moments from his time in real estate so far. He highlights how he has been able to learn more, and to show love for his community. His profession often bleeds into his personal interests in this way, attending summer festivals, car shows, and other exciting events in his area.

“The biggest accomplishment for me has been the ability to grow within myself,” he says. 

He acknowledges certain changes that he has made in not only his conversational skills and convictions, but also his general demeanor. “I used to not watch what I said,” he says when asked to expand on his old behaviors. Through real estate, he has learned that the words you say can affect everything, in business as well as everyday life. 

Silva has also been able to share his passion with people that could be greatly affected by what he has to say. “I’ve had the opportunity to go on the radio, as well as to speak at schools.”

Silva is quick to point out the fact that many of his successes have been made possible with mentors within real estate that he’s had. He talks about Jason Posnick, his sales manager, and how he taught Silva about “asking the right questions to uncover motivation.” Max Inouye is also brought up by Silva in the discussion of mentors. 

Inouye is a friend of Silva’s, as well as what he would describe as a “master salesman.” Silva praises Inouye’s ability to “keep things simple”, and also admires that he’s “put (him) in the hot seat a few times.”

Silva’s parents have proven to be ultimately supportive of his endeavors in recent years. “I was excited for him, he’s got the personality for it,” his mother and NECC alum Maria Silva says. “He was telling me about a deal today, it was great!”

Peter Silva, Silva’s father, has not only gone to some of his open houses but has also “lent him contractors as well as installed smoke directors.” 

Silva’s best advice for anyone thinking of pursuing real estate is to “just shadow!” He acknowledges the way in which someone can learn by shadowing, as there are many professions and intricacies within real estate.

Anyone can keep up with Silva from his social media, where he posts not only real estate content, but also food and lifestyle within his community. His instagram is @cantmatchzyel.

Editor’s Note: After learning about profile writing in Journalism I class, Observer Campus Life Editor Demiya Silva was inspired to write this portrait of her brother. 

NECC Transfer Fair and potential picks

The end of the semester is approaching rapidly, and graduation is on the horizon for many students at NECC. 

That’s why on Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Northern Essex held a transfer fair. 

Representatives from schools all over the state came to NECC and set up tables in the Spurk building so any interested students would be able to ask questions and learn about potential four-year institutions in which to apply. 

There were many schools and programs to choose from, whether one is looking for something traditional or a more alternative route. 

One such program is the Duet Program from Southern New Hampshire University. The program is all online and completely project based. 

Dustin Gardner, the representative for the Duet Program explained, “As soon as you master a project, you earn one credit and just keep moving.” 

Students complete however many projects it takes for them to earn all their credits, but to earn the credit, the project must be mastered. 

To master a project, you complete the project and submit it for feedback. 

Then you edit and revise your project as many times as necessary until it is considered mastered. 

This option might be a great alternative for those who want to work at their own pace or those who prefer online options.

A great option for those who might prefer a less populated student body is Merrimack College. The campus, located in North Andover, is described as “Instagram-worthy” according to the official Merrimack College website, merrimack.edu. 

Another perk of attending Merrimack College is the campus’s support dog named Merri (yes, as in Merrimack). 

Merrimack College partnered with a New Hampshire nonprofit called Hero Pups that trains shelter dogs to become service and support dogs and Merri is training with the Merrimack College Police Department to aid students in need. 

According to Josh Rizzo, the representative from Merrimack College, there are often jokes and rumors about getting another dog named Mack to really complete things. He also said “I went to Merrimack for my undergrad and grad school, and I’ve been working here for two years. I love Merrimack so much I haven’t left yet.” 

If gorgeous scenery and an adorable dog sound like a huge bonus for your education, you might consider Merrimack College. 

For those who are looking for the more traditional university experience, UMASS Dartmouth is always a great option. While the school is most well-known for its humanities and visual and performing arts programs, they offer over 50 undergraduate and 30 graduate fields of study. The 710-acre campus is also known for being quite beautiful with woods, ponds, trails, etc. to be found all around and is just about 30 minutes from Cape Cod. 

Jessica Mercier, the representative from UMASS Dartmouth at the transfer fair said, “It is a very social campus. It’s a midsize university and everything is housed in one campus so it’s very student run and close knit.” 

All these schools and many others could be found at the transfer fair along with all the information you might need. 

Salem State and UMass Lowell are also close by options and both schools have transfer agreements with NECC. 

 A UMass Lowell transfer counselor will be at NECC on Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Spurk building lobby. 

Narcan: A life saving medicine

Nationally, there are Fifty Thousand deaths a year caused by opioid overdoses, while another Ten Million people misuse them, according to drugabusestatistcs.org.

 This epidemic that began in the United States in the 1990s, according to medicalnewstoday.com, and has affected many people and has caused heart break for many families with loved ones who struggle with addiction.  

In the event of an overdose, a civilian can administer Narcan. Narcan is a lifesaving drug that can reverse the effect of an opioid overdose by latching onto the same receptors in a person’s brain and blocking the opioids’ access. 

This drug, medically known as Naloxone, provides temporary help in an emergency. It gives users a second chance to change and to seek treatment, according to stopoverdoseil.org

Narcan is extremely important for more people to know about. One can never predict when an emergency will present itself. With the many, many, deaths caused by opioid abuse, more people carrying and knowing how to use Narcan could significantly drop these rates.  

Despite its importance, speaking to people at NECC has shown that some people have never even heard of Narcan before. An early college student, Mia Swinson said, “It’s some kind of drug, right? I don’tknow what it does though.”  

Another student at NECC, Xavier Patnaude, made a similar statement. “I have no idea what that is,” he replied when asked about Narcan and its uses. 

While a number of students expressed they did know of it, the majority answered that they had not. 

Narcan training and awareness is important because, as put beautifully by NECC alumni, S. Orio, “Narcan gives the average person an opportunity to save lives – it is a simple and easy process that could save someone’s life.” 

NECC held a Narcan training seminar on Tuesday, Nov. 14th from 12:30 to 1:30 PM in Lecture Hall A of the John Spurk building. 

The training is a partnership between NECC, Mass General Brigham, and the Merrimack Valley Bridge Clinic. It was meant to be an hour of both discussion and training for harm reduction and the administration of Narcan in the case of an overdose, according to a calendar listing about the event. 

Everyone who attended the event was to leave with naloxone kits and be well prepared to use them in case of emergency, as well as being able to perform rescue breathing, according to a calendar listing for the event. 

Barrett breaks the glass ceiling in Haverhill mayoral election

The city of Haverhill made history November 7, 2023. The voters of Haverhill voted Melinda Barrett to become the Mayor, the first female to lead the city.

 It took over 153 years to break theglass ceiling. In 1640 the city was incorporated as Pentucket and in 1870 was incorporated in as the city of Haverhill. The final results were Barrett, 7,038 votes and Guy Cooper a retired Haverhill Police Officer with 3,024. Barrett won with a two to one margin.

Another interesting fact is Barrett was also the first female to be elected to the Haverhill City Council President.

In her one minute spotlight for HC Media, the local community access station, Barrett stated that her top priorities would be responsible growth, continue the revitalization of the downtown and increasing industrial parks.

When asked, Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Auditor Diana DiZoglio what it meant for

Haverhill she states, “from day one she has been a partner in making Haverhill and the Merrimack Valley a better place, and now I get to call her “Madam Mayor,” Congratulations my friend, even better Congratulations Haverhill!”

Fellow Haverhill City Councilor Tom Sullivan stated “Melinda Barrett is a positive person and believes in good governing practices, moving forward Melinda will ensure an open dialogue, honest answers, and real solutions to the many challenges facing the city of Haverhill.”

In the Eagle Tribune article they stated it was a who’s who of people who attended Barrett’s celebratory speech at Maria’s Galleria, a family owned restaurant in downtown Haverhill as she thanked the many volunteers and supporters of hers.

In her interview with HC Media she stated her family owned a small downtown business for many years and she is going to continue in the revitalization that current Mayor Fiorentini began years ago. Fiorentini remarked “she worked hard and ran a great campaign and more importantly she worked hard over the last several years to prepare herself for the job.” He added “I think she will be a great mayor.”

Barrett stated in her interview with Marc Lemay from WHAV Radio “I love this city.”

Let it be known the City of Haverhill has broken the glass ceiling and a new day is dawning, a city needs all voices to be heard for it to become an even greater city. It is exciting and if you are asked to get involved, will yo u say YES!

MassReconnect: A second chance for education

Man sitting at a table in a classroom
NECC student Bradley Johnsen is taking advantage of the opportunity from MassReconnect. Photo by Editor-in-Chief Kim Zappala

On August 28, in a step towards redefining accessibility to higher education, a state-funded program was launched and is set to reshape the learning landscape for college students aged 25 years and older. 

This program provides two years of free college to such students, working to break down financial barriers that have stopped countless individuals from pursuing highereducation while also restoring the value of traditional collegiate experiences in the face of anincreasingly digital world.

I know so many people that would like to go back to school and would like to further their careers, but can’t because they can not afford to go back; says Maya Rivera, 25, American SignLanguage/Deaf Studies major at NECC, echoing the thoughts of countless individuals who laterin their lives have longed for the opportunity to further their education or change their career trajectories.

Other than financial issues, another obstacle that colleges face in today’s digital age is the abundance of free educational resources online. Former NECC dropout, Michael Martinez, 30, IT Network Architect, offers a different perspective on his journey to a successful career in Information Technology. Reflecting on his experience, Martinez said, “I tried the college route, but realized it wasn’t for. Instead, I went online to study for my Network +

A man standing in a classroom
MassReconnect student Ned Henzine just finished a Health and Nutrition class at NECC. Photo by Editor-in-Chief Kim Zappala

certification. It was really convenient and saved me tons of money. I only had to pay for the certification test, which was also online.”      

Martinez’s path to success bypassed the traditional two-year college route, embodying the mindset of many people who cannot afford college. 

When the internet provides an abundance of free resources that lead to lucrative careers, many opt into taking this route instead.

While Martinez’s story displays the benefits of a solo, online education, many do not experience such success. MassReconnect allows older students an opportunity to find similar success in the traditional educational path without the monetary burden.

 Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, in endorsing this program, emphasized its potential in a press release announcing the programs implementation: “MassReconnect will be transformative for thousands of students, for our amazing community colleges, and for our economy… It will bolster the role of community colleges as economic drivers in our state and help us better meet the needs of businesses to find qualified, well-trained workers.”

MassReconnect’s focus on older learners is working to revitalize the return to an in-person college classroom. When speaking of the utility of online vs. in-person classes, Rivera says, “I think that some classes need to be done in person so that you’re able to retain and practice what you’re learning in person.”, showing that many students still do believe in the benefits of the college experience.

MassReconnect reaffirms this truth and the enduring relevance of colleges in an ever-changing,

digital educational landscape. By prioritizing the education of older learners, the program not only has the potential to transform individual lives but also revitalize the broader educationalecosystem as well as the community’s economy. In doing so, it sends a powerful message: the benefit of hands-on college learning is timeless and should be accessible to all, regardless of age.

Consider a federal work study job this spring semester

What is Federal Work Study?

Federal Work Study (FWS) is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time NECC-approved jobs. Many of these positions are located on campus in Haverhill and Lawrence. Some are with our community partners that are close to campus, like MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Center and JumpStart (early childhood education).

What Are the Benefits?

• Students earn money for educational expenses as part of their financial aid award.

• Students gain valuable experience and skills in their area of study to the extent possible.

• Your employer knows you are a college student first. Employers are encouraged to be as flexible as possible and work around your class schedule.

• Because FWS is a need-based financial aid program, FWS income (although taxable) does not affect your future financial aid eligibility.

Courtesy of Career Services

Applying on Handshake:

Available FWS jobs are posted on Handshake, NECC’s job and internship board. Use your MyNECC login to get started! https://necc.joinhandshake.com/

Once you log in, select jobs and use the filter to select the “Work Study” checkbox. Review the open opportunities and submit your resume to the opportunities you are interested in working. An NECC employee will follow up with more details and potentially invite you to an interview.

Not seeing FWS positions? Contact the Financial Aid office to confirm your eligibility. financialaid@necc.mass.edu

Starting your first resume or looking for feedback? Schedule a meeting with Career Services through Navigate.

My Experience as a Federal Work Study Student

Opinion article by Robert Suriel (written May 2023)

Hello! My name is Robert Suriel, and I am writing an opinion piece as a work-study in Career Services. A Federal Work Study Job is for college students with financial needs, allowing them to earn money to help pay for expenses related to their education. I knew when I was eligible to work as a work-study when I got financial aid and confirmed with the Financial Aid office if I was eligible. 

 When starting a Work Study, it’s important to consider your college schedule as different departments may have varying flexibility regarding remote work or working hours outside of 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

 1. Time management: Take note of the number of classes you have and assess whether you can effectively balance your homework and work responsibilities. If you have a heavy course load, it may be challenging to handle additional work without negatively impacting your grades. Be mindful of the workload you can handle in a week. 

 2. Effective communication: Keep your supervisors informed about your class schedule. If there are emergencies or exams that clash with your work schedule, communicate with your supervisors promptly. Discuss the possibility of rescheduling or inform them in advance about your unavailability due to exams or other commitments. Prioritize your education, and as a work-study student, your exams and classes are a top priority. 

 Remember, the best ways to contact your supervisors are through email, Microsoft Teams, or a quick phone call to notify them about any exams or schedule conflicts. 

 By managing your time effectively and maintaining open communication with your supervisors, you can navigate your work-study experience more smoothly. 

 Advice for searching for a work-study job 

When using Handshake, simply login to your student account and explore the available job opportunities. Exercise caution when applying and ensure you have a clear understanding of the roles you are applying for. Additionally, consider your mode of transportation, as some positions may require reliable access to a car. It’s important to verify the legitimacy of the places you apply to and consider the transportation options available to you. 

 Creating a well-crafted resume is crucial when applying for any job. If you need assistance in writing a resume, there are various options to consider. NECC Career Services comes highly recommended as they offer support in resume and cover letter writing, along with resources for interview preparation and more. If you are just getting started, you can utilize ChatGPT to generate a skeleton draft for practice purposes. You can edit it to make it your own and connect with NECC Career Services for feedback. 

 By being mindful of these factors and utilizing available resources, you can navigate the job application process more effectively.