Students honored

Emma Ruggiero receives an award by PACE program.
PACE student of the year Emma Ruggiero, center, holds her award with PACE staff, left to right: Christine Carbone, Jessica Rocker, Esther Peralta, and PACE director Kristin Arnold. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

The PACE awards dinner was held on April 23. During this celebration, student members of PACE were recognized for their commitment and academic excellence.

PACE which stands for Pathways to Academic & Career Excellence, is a student support services program funded by a TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO programs are open to students who are first generation college students, low-income or students with disabilities.

If you are wondering what kind of support services PACE offers, “they can help you do well in your courses by referring you to tutors, providing you with a ThinkingStorm account, monitoring your progress, and providing academic skills workshops. PACE also provides intensive individualized academic advising one-on-one,” according to the NECC website.

Citizenship Award by PACE
From left to right: Akira Matos and Rosa Conn. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

“The PACE program has had a significant impact on me since I immigrated and was unfamiliar with the college dynamic,” said Rosa Garza, a business transfer student. “I feel like they guided me through the process and helped me choose a good college through their multiple college trips. The staff there felt like family; every time I had a question, I knew I could turn to Jessica or Christine. They made me feel comfortable throughout my college journey, and I’m grateful to my peer who told me about the PACE program in TRIO.”

Most Inspirational Award by PACE
From left to right: Maria CubiasRealegeno, Erin Magner, Rocker, Kim Zappala, Ashley Jimenez Rodriguez Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

For Maria “Ampa” Cubias PACE is more than a program, she said.
“For myself I have always described PACE as unconditional family, unconditional love, unconditional respect, and effort toward the students to achieve our goals and be better every single day,” she said.

“I thank PACE staff for all the support, love. For (guiding) me throughout my darkest moments when I feel that I cannot (do) more they are always being there for me to cheer me up and tell me that I can do this and more. This program has helped me tremendously with the support that we got from our mentors Kristen, Jessica, Christine and Esther. Thank you so much for always being there for us!”

Futuristic Award by PACE
From left to right: Anthony Severino, Le Xuyen Bui, Rebecca Charabaty, Kyara Cruz Santos, Joshua Buffum and Megan Lesiczka. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

PACE recognized students in 10 categories such as Citizenship Award, which congratulates students for their leadership and promoting success of other students, or Academic Achievement Award, which applauds students’ effort in maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

The Futuristic Award goes to students who have worked hard during their time in NECC and will continue to grow as an individual either in their academic and/or professional careers.

Academic Achievement Awardees by PACE
From left to right: Rocker, Collin Endsley, Anh Nguyen. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

The Learning Scholar is an award that recognizes a student who demonstrates growth and change in enhancing their learning strategies during this semester.

There is an award for staff or faculty who have served as an integral component to the success of the TRIO program, the Partnership for Equity Award.

Perseverance Award by PACE
From left to right: Lourdes Polanco, Kisbel Filpo Fernandez, Miguelangel Perez, Divine Biose, Izaiah IgartuRivera, Dafreisy Veras, Abigail Preston and Peralta. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

The list of the awardees:

Citizenship Award: Rosa Conn, Akira Matos, Andrew Parente

Learning Scholar Award: Rafie Ceballo-Peralta, Luis Hernandez, Halie Nault, Daniela Valdivia-Terres, Ethan You

Outstanding New Participant Award: Enrique Almanzar, Nayeli Almanzar Lizardo, Lirianni German, Joshua Hernandez, Shannon Rice, Izeah Rivera

Perseverance Award: Divine Biose, Kisbel Filpo Fernandez, Iziah IgartuaRivera, Miguelangel Perez, Lourdes Polanco, Abigail Preston, Jorge Torres-Guzman, Dafreisy Veras

Learning Scholar Award by PACE
From left to right: PACE Academic Adviser Esther Peralta,Daniela Valdivia-Terres, and PACE Transfer Adviser Jessica Rocker. Photo courtesy of Christine Carbone

Futuristic Award: Scott Bixby, Joshua Buffum, Le Xuyen Bui, Alliyah Cuevas, Rebecca Charabaty, Kyara Cruz Santos, Cassandra Kussad, Megan Lesiczka, Anthony Severino

Most Inspirational Student Award: Maria CubiasRealegeno, Ashley Jimenez Rodriguez, Erin Magner, Kimberly Zappala

Outstanding New Participant Award by PACE
From left to right: Nayeli Almanzar Lizardo, Peralta, Josh Hernandez, Carbone, Enrique Almanzar, Lirianni German, Shannon Rice and Izeah Rivera. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

Most Involved Participant Award: Denisha Adorno

Academic Achievement Award: Sonia Baez, Alliyah Cuevas, Collin Endsley, Christopher Guzman, Anh Nguyen, Jordi Ortiz

Partnership in Equity Award
From left to right: Rocker, Martha Bixby, PACE Director Kristin Arnold, Jeff Flahery, Peralta and Data Specialist Christine Carbone. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

Partnership for Equity Award: Martha Bixby, Jeff Flaherty

Student of the Year: Emma Ruggiero. She wrote a story about this program, “PACE program changes students’ lives.”

The PACE Alumni Panelists were Shania Berard, Parisa Hatami, Giselle Peguero Grullon, Kelly Perez.
They shared their insights and experiences about their time at NECC throughout their further education.

PACE Alumni Panelists
Alumni panelists from left to right: Parisa Hatami, Kelly Perez, Shania Berard and Giselle Peguero Grullon. Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

They discovered the biggest take aways when they transferred to a four-year institutions:

Time management and organization. This will make a big difference from day one. “Have your syllabus handy,” said Giselle Peguero Grullon.

Networking, not only with your peers but with professors and staff.

Ask for help to professors and staff. Don’t be shy!” said Shania Berard. Look for academic adviser and support services. “Send those emails to professors asking for help, they want to see you thrive,” said Kelly Perez.

“Don’t be afraid of failure,” said Parisa Hatami. Even the pathway seems too hard, “being resilient will help you to achieve your dreams.” In the same line, Shania Berard said “even when you find bumps or mountains on the road, challenge yourself!”

Take care of your mental and physical wellbeing. “Be healthy and do workouts,” Hatami emphasized.

Also, Hatami added that as an immigrant PACE was pivotal in her first steps in her academic career. She appreciated the support she received from the director, “Kristen is more than a counselor; she is a good listener,” she said.

The celebration called it a night after some questions from students to the panelists. Family members and close friends of the awardees who joined the celebration left after showing their support in this ceremony.

If you need more information contact the PACE staff at or visit their offices on both campuses.