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Students unsastified with Jitters

By Jake Soroghan


NECC is a community college, and therefore does not always have the same amenities that a four-year institution has. It makes sense the tuition is less, so obviously not as much can be offered. There are less sports teams, the athletic complex is smaller, there are no dormitories and on the whole there are less events around campus.

This is all to be expected; students know the situation coming in. Even with these expectations, though, there’s one issue on campus that seems to irritate practically all students: the food situation. On campus, outside of vending machines, there are only two places to get food. The first is the One-Stop Center’s bookstore, which is essentially a mini-mart. With various snacks, drinks and microwaveable sandwiches, it serves its purposes as a way to get quick food cheaply.

On the other side of campus, there is what is supposed to be the school’s “cafeteria,” but calling it a cafeteria probably gives it too much credit. Run by NexDine and located in the Spurk building, this poorly-run café has little in the way of options and is excessive on the prices. The options for substantive meals come down to pre-made sandwiches in plastic containers and often old Papa Gino’s pizza, if pizza can even be considered substantive.

Andrew Wooster, an English major, said he’s tired of paying so much for the poor-quality food. “The sandwiches are old and skimpy, the pizza is $2.50 for a slice and besides that there ain’t anything else to eat. There’s always two or three employees in there and they do nothing but sit around all day.”

Dissatisfaction is a common theme among students. Ernie Ewusi, a Radiology major, said he no longer gets any food at NECC. He either brings his own, or if he’s in the mood, orders out.

“It just doesn’t make sense to get food here,” he said. “The only thing they have going for them is convenience, and even the vending machines are expensive.”

This is the root of the problem; due to its convenience, students are often compelled to buy the overpriced food here because they don’t have the time or gas money to leave campus to get food and come back for their next class.

Erik Goulet, a Physical Therapy major, says that’s a problem for him every day he forgets to bring food from home, or there is no food at home.

“If I can’t pack a lunch for myself on a given day, I have to go hungry for the whole day. I don’t have enough money to get the expensive food at the café, and am always short on gas, so driving somewhere isn’t an option.”

Expanding the cafeteria to include a wider array of hot food options would solve a few of the current problems.

One, it would simply give students more filling and healthy options. Secondly, if the cafeteria was making its own hot food, the prices would go down.

When nothing but pre-packaged sandwiches and pizza are sold, the prices have to be more expensive because a middleman is involved.

When food is made on site, there is no middleman and therefore prices go down. NexDine either needs to increase the quality of their services or NECC administration need to find another company who can address the need of the students to fill that role.

Students’ podcasts are on the air

Communication students at NECC are making leaps and bounds in spreading information, bringing attention to contemporary issues in mass media and discussing controversial topics through HC Media’s podcasts.

Thomas Matatall, Communication major, is a discussion leader in his podcast “Breaking the Norm.”

“Our podcast is with my co-host Courtney Spera. We talk about uncomfortable topics for college students mainly, things like social justice issues. We tend to be more liberal, so when we talk about politics it tends to be more on the Democratic side,” said Matatall.

Other divisive topics like Planned Parenthood, abortion and gun control laws are brought out on a conversational platter as well. In the first episode, the issue of double standards in society — including the controversial “Free the nipple” campaign that is frequently referenced in media — were examined. “It was our first one, so it was a little rocky. My favorite part is to be able to do it with my best friend, we have a good time and talk back and forth. There’s a lot to come, you can get a podcast app on your phone,” said Matatall.

Another podcast that has made its debut is “Here and There” created by Tracy Mukami and Abdul Kamara. Mukami, a Communication major, is a leader in the discussions about very real racial issues in modern society, but also focuses on the positives of being an African American. “The podcast is my friend and I, we basically try to break the racial social barriers in society. He’s a first-generation African, and I came from Africa when I was younger, so I’m pretty much first-generation too,” said Mukami.

To try and break the social barriers, the duo uniquely offers a positive outlook by discussing where they come from, and the similarities and differences among cultures.

“We talk about how we were raised, what we enjoyed seeing, what was different, and how we were able to transition from this lifestyle to the outside world,” said Mukami.

One might expect someone who comes from a different culture to experience a lot of difficulty experiencing a college campus, however for Mukami it simply wasn’t the case.

“A lot of people were really understanding. People kind of have something in them where they want to learn, and get educated, especially at NECC. It’s very diverse and I really like it,” said Mukami. According to her, one of the most enjoyable parts of being on a radio podcast, especially when addressing social injustices or racial inequalities, is the feedback from listeners.

“People are interacting back and forth with us. When we tweet it out and have people comment back or subscribe, that tells you how you’re doing,” said Mukami.

The biggest struggle and point of contention in the current social climate is trying to get people to understand the difference between those who identify as African Americans, and those who identify as Black Americans.

“I consider myself African because I’m not even a citizen of the country yet, but I also still go back to my country. My mom speaks the language, and I understand. Then, with African Americans, some don’t know where their roots are from.  We have this whole different culture but Black Americans can also relate to it, we’re kind of in that little pod, not everyone can understand that from the outside. There can be German Americans, or French Americans who happen to be black, and their grandparents or people before them. Once you’re here and you’ve lived here for awhile and adjusted to it you’d be African American. It all depends on how the individual feels,” said Mukami.

“Here and There” has one episode out right now, and plans to do one or two each month, each being about 30 minutes long.

“We will be having guests on the show, of people of different backgrounds, from different schools, different cities. So we will have people who are in Lowell which is not as diverse in certain areas, then we’ll go to Fitchburg, and compare the different environments, and whether it’s in college or high school we’ll compare to similarities and differences growing up,” said Mukami.

Other podcasts include a sports talk with Eddie Hoar and Matt Couture, called “Couture & Hoar Sports Talk” which is now available online. To reach the podcasts, go to  http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/category/podcast-series to check out current podcasts.                

Internships inspire NECC students

Students majoring in communications, business and accounting were able to take advantage of the internship opportunities through NECC this semester, gaining real-world experience in their major.

Darian Denis, Brett Davekos and Fausto Caba are just a few of the students who did internships this semester and were glad they did.

Denis, a Business Transfer major, recently completed an internship at Strategic Talent, a recruiting firm and an affiliate company of MFA Financial in Tewksbury.

“This internship is great for students who know what they want and just want to get their foot in the door, but it’s also great for people who have absolutely no idea what they want because it can give them some sort of direction,” she said.

Her main responsibilities were to help the team with research; she would prescreen resumes and make initial calls to candidates to find out what they were seeking.

One of the biggest challenges for her was maintaining a balance between school, her internship, her other job and personal time for herself.

Although it’s recommended that you take fewer classes while you’re doing the internship, she didn’t necessarily listen.

“It’s a lot of work! But it’s all such a positive experience,” Denis said.

One of her favorite parts of the internship class was being able to connect with other people in the same position as she was and expand her network with other students in various fields.

“I am also someone who has no idea what I’m doing after college, so the internship was a great opportunity for me to try out a field to see if I like it, and kind of give me some direction for a future career path,” she said. “Once I got in there and I started doing it, I realized that this is something I could do for years to come.”

Brett Davekos is majoring in business management, but his interest is in the healthcare industry, so he did an internship at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport.

His goal was to figure out what field in healthcare he wanted to pursue, such as nursing, radiology or medical assisting.

Since his internship was more education–oriented, he was placed in various places in the hospital, the two main locations being the Comprehensive Pain Clinic and the Operating Room.

“The duties I had in the pain clinic related to my degree the most because I did a lot of secretarial work such as filing, billing, scheduling and mail runs. However, it wasn’t all office work; my supervisor would have me sit in and see patients with her and the head physician of the clinic would invite me to sit in on some of his procedures,” said Davekos.

In the Operating Room, his main duties were to stock supplies, clean rooms after operations and assist nurses.

During down time, doctors invited him to observe various operations.

His favorite part of the internship was the people that he got to work with, who were knowledgeable and supportive of his education.

“They taught me so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to learn from a classroom; about how to interact with different kinds of patients, such as the elderly, drug addicts or ones going through chemotherapy,” he said.

Every staff member at the hospital expressed to Davekos that they wished they could have done what he was able to do, since many people entering the healthcare industry have limited knowledge of what they are getting themselves into.

When a student’s knowledge is limited to textbooks, it’s difficult for a professor to accurately inform the student of what an actual job in the field would be like.

“This program not only gave me on-site experience, connections and relationships with influential people, but it also helped me pick out that nursing, out of numerous certificates and degrees I could pick from, was the best fit for my work ethic and personality,” he said.

Fausto Caba, an accounting major in his last semester at NECC, did an internship at Bradford & Bigelow in Newburyport, a book manufacturing company. It was his first time working in an office environment.

His two main responsibilities were handling accounts payables and accounts receivables, or paying bills and billing customers.

Each day he would find a stack of papers for him, find invoices, and start working on them at the computer.

Caba’s boss turned out to be an accounting professor, and his boss exposed him to a lot of different parts of accounting.

“There’s no doubt I would recommend this internship to other students. This experience is life–changing,” he said.

Student doesn’t let obstacles stand in her way

24-year-old Shianne McGilvray wears bright-colored plaid cardigans and bows in her hair as she attends NECC.

Her partner in crime is Ruby, her cat, whom she is planning on getting pictures with for the holidays while sporting a kitty Christmas sweater. She is in her last semester for an associate degree in Liberal Arts: Psychology Option. She’s even received an academic award for High Honors in her major.

“I am a member of PACE, Psi Beta and Phi Theta Kappa, and I am currently trying to be accepted into Psi Chi (four year college psychology honor society). I am a single, one-cat woman. I often try to paint, color or sketch. However, I need to make sure my cat, Ruby, is also getting affection — otherwise she’ll try to be an artist with me,” says McGilvray.

Isabelle Gagne is a psychology professor in the Behavioral Science department. McGilvray was in her Developmental Psychology 1: Childhood and Adolescence course last Spring. “(Shianne) joined Psi Beta Psychology Community College honors society, volunteered as a note taker in the course, and participated in college professional day as a panelist on the power of a positive mind set.”

“A group of Psi Beta members, which included two other students and myself spoke as a student panel about our early obstacles, successes and of course our wisdom to members of faculty and staff at NECC.

“Our presentation was called ‘Mystified.’ The core message was despite the odds against us whether it was gender identity, sexual orientation, abuse and all of the consequences of such odds, we are achieving our goals in college.

“I want to say by being on ‘Mystified,’ I grew stronger as an individual. I voiced about abuses I’ve faced, and that was both empowering and scary as it was the first time I publically spoke of things of that nature to a room full of professors and staff,” says McGilvray.

“The panel received a questions along the lines of, ‘How can we help other students develop a healthy mindset?’ Many of our answers were simply, ‘Be aware of those who may be struggling, and be available to talk to mentor those who are struggling,’(or)‘You can try to help students, but it won’t change unless the students want to change their mindset,’(and)‘students need to become more self-aware, and if they have the tools to change, they will because it is self-motivated.”

When she participated in the professional day they had a panel of Psi Beta students, three honor students and they discussed how they overcame the odds in their lives to be successful now.

“Shianne discussed her childhood and she said that she had no choice but do well because that brings meaning to her life. She wrote a PowerPoint with words representing what a positive mind-set is and with pictures of her as a child and now,” said Gagne.

Lenny Cavallaro, a member of the English department since 1998, says, “I didn’t really get much of an impression until her first paper. It was clear that she would prove an excellent student, and I was impressed by how well she addressed the editorial corrections I provided (for the draft) in her revision.  She always responded well to criticism and was a pleasure to have in the classroom.”

Gagne thinks McGilvray is a “dedicated student, focused on learning and always striving to improve. She’s a quiet person but when you get to know her you realize that she has a lot to say about anything and everything. She is curious and always willing to help out others, and is passionate about animal therapy.”

“My passion for animal therapy stems from home. I have an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) named Ruby. She perks my mood up when I’m feeling blue with playful meows that demand my attention, but more than often laying over my assignments/keyboard. Animals can help everyone (who can be treated with animal therapy, which excludes animal abusers) to veterans, blind persons, people who have seizures, children, adults, also criminals.”

McGilvray still struggles like fellow college students. “Honestly, at times I can’t break things down and handle them in an academic setting— but I try and keep trying. I ask for help from professors if I can’t break things down and ask for their guidance on how I should handle it.

“Then when I understand it, I personalize it to my specific tastes (for example, I am doing a survey and I’ve had to ask how I should represent specific data.) I believe the hardest thing for me in classes (and life) is to ask for help, because I have had to depend on myself, but I also need to understand that I can ask for assistance. However, I procrastinate like the dickens, and that is not helpful,” says McGilvray.

“I am afraid I know her only as a student — and a very good one, at that.” says Cavallaro.

McGilvray’s philosophy in life includes quotes like: “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection and ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approved their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death,’ from  Leonardo da Vinci.”

Another is by Robert Fulghum. “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

Brianna Beam, a 25-year-old Criminal Justice graduate, says, “We met in middle school and we were not friends at first because of a disagreement we had, and then met again in high school and quickly became best friends.”

“Brianna and I wiped the slate clean and became best friends,” says McGilvray. “It’s harder to see her because she is currently at UML. However, we’ve bonded deeply and both of us understand that life happens, and so when we do see another it’s like no time has passed.”

“I was admittedly nervous around her.  I’m an extremely introverted person, especially with people I don’t know especially well,” says Christina Sirignano, a 24-year-old Liberal Arts Philosophy Option major.

“In the end, we bonded over books and our mutual love of Disney movies, especially ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”

McGilvray says that she and Sirignano had met briefly in high school, “Our friendship really took off, we’ve forged our friendship over music, books, movies, how to properly pronounce words like hibiscus. We, like Brianna and I, do not see each other often but, we try to make a day in a month that we get together. Our next adventure will be the Aquarium.

At first glance, McGilvray doesn’t seem to be one that lives with any type of disorder, but she digs through the trenches of living with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

“Most of my stresses and anxieties are often minor situations. I despise being late for work or a major appointment. I would rather get hit with a baseball bat than have small talk with someone I do not know,” McGilvray says.

When McGilvray first started working at the college bookstore,  her biggest conflict was coping with others. She says, “There are coping strategies to make life easier. There are times where I simply can’t get out of bed, but I have to — I make goals for myself, and try to see the silver in the clouds.”

She had used the opportunity of her job to get to talking to people she didn’t know, essentially facing her anxieties.

“Shianne is one of the strongest people I know. Her life has been difficult, and she’s had to take on more responsibility because of it,” Sirignano says. “When I first met her, Shianne was working two jobs and attending college full-time. And yet somehow she still managed to graduate with honors.”

“She works hard and perseveres even when she is confronted with challenges, she doesn’t always see how much of an amazing person she is, and she lets things get to her when they shouldn’t.” says Beam.

“Shianne cares deeply about the people who are closest to her.  She’s very protective of her loved ones and would do anything she could for them. However, with all that passion and love comes a short fuse. Like me, Shianne can get frustrated with others easily, but she never dwells on it. Once that spark ignites, it’s gone fairly quickly,” says Sirignano.

“I love her dearly, she is part of my family. She stands out because she is herself, has an awesome personality and accepts me for who I am. The way we act when we are together, we could be sisters.

“She has overcome more than most college students have to deal with, and she has made it through being better than she was when she started.” Beam says.

Sirignano says, “I think the reason why we’re still friends is because Shianne is so down to earth and easygoing. Even if we haven’t seen each other for well over a month, there’s never any awkwardness; it’s like that month-long hiatus never happened.  She’s outspoken and funny, I’m quiet and sarcastic. She  is an inspiration, an exceptional role model, and a great friend.”

“I don’t have a favorite role model in celebrity life; I can’t see what is beyond what is at their face value unless I specifically know the person, and that’s okay,” says McGilvray.

“I have other role models in my personal life, which include my aunts and grandmother, but also the people who are not related to me, such as my ninth grade history teacher, Amy, who I will spend time with her and her family on Christmas for the 3rd time. These role models, specifically Amy, have taught me to love my life, despite the obstacles I’ve been facing.”

“She’s the yin to my yang.  Shianne is just one of those friends that I know I’ll always have,” Sirignano says.

McGilvray plans to take sign language courses at UMass Lowell.

“I want to learn American Sign Language to help individuals be able to communicate with me. My life plan is to help someone to find his/her voice, strength, meaning of life and help ease his/her burdens as a friend, teacher, therapist, etc. I plan on a personal level to keep progressing from what I once was, to what I am now, to what I will be,” she says.

Beware the threat of ‘text neck’

Constant use of mobile devices is causing NECC students a real pain in the neck.

In a recent poll, half of the NECC students asked said that they spend more than two hours per day looking down at their phones.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, the average American sends and receives more than 40 text messages per day.

“I’m not surprised,” said NECC student Sam Bergeron, who offers a suggestion to “text neck” sufferers. “Delete social networks.”

“Text Neck,” coined by chiropractor Dean Fishman, has become the official term adopted by healthcare professionals to describe the pain caused by several hours of emailing, gaming and texting.

“I didn’t even know there was a term for it,” said NECC student Paul Giordano. “Whenever I look at my phone for a long time, my neck is always sore when I stand up.”

Instead of raising our arms to view the screens of our devices, we tend to rest the phone or tablet on our laps which causes our heads to be lowered to an unnatural position.

“Posture is very important. You should try to keep your head in a neutral position no matter what you’re doing,” said Rob Wormald, spokesperson for the Health and Wellness Center.

The human head, which weighs approximately ten pounds, is adequately supported by the neck and spine while the chin is lifted to a parallel position to floor.

However, an additional ten pounds of pressure is added for every inch that the chin is lowered toward the chest causing strain on the neck, back and shoulders.

If left untreated, “text neck” can lead to poor posture, permanent curvature of the spine and costly medical treatments.

Joe Parker of NECC’s Movement Science Department is a specialist in corrective exercise and explains that “the lever of the neck is like a seesaw and works best when it is balanced.”

According to Parker, there are exercises that may help to alleviate symptoms of ‘text neck’. The Health and Wellness Center is equipped with a full gym and is free for all current students.

For any non-emergency health concerns you may have on campus, contact the Health & Wellness Center at 978) 556-3819.

Greene and Espinoza Talk Zombies

On Friday, Nov. 13, Professors Lis Espinoza and Tom Greene gave a presentation called “Zombie Talk: The Popularity of Ghouls and Zombies in Film, Race and Gender.”

Dimly lit, Lecture Hall A welcomed zombie enthusiasts by projecting the sounds of “Zombie” (the popular ’90s, song by The Cranberries) and featured professional, special effects makeup artist, Holly Recupero of Salem, Mass., creating a variety of zombie-esque looks for those who attended.

“Ironically, I’m afraid of zombies,” said Espinoza, who introduced the presentation.

Despite her fear, her curiosity drove her to find out where the first zombies appeared in pop culture.

One of the first films discussed by Espinoza and Greene was “White Zombie” (1932) by Garnett Weston. Starring Béla Lugosi (1882-1956) the actor who played the original Count Dracula in 1931, the film featured a re-animated corpse and later became the inspiration for a band of the same name.

“White Zombie,” the band co-founded in 1985 by Haverhill native Rob Cummings, horror enthusiast, eventually led to his solo career and new band called “Rob Zombie.”

After legally changing his last name from Cummings to Zombie, he made his directorial debut in 2003 with the film “House of 1000 Corpses.”

As we journeyed through decades of films, one of the most influential examples of zombie takeover discussed was 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead,” written by George Romero and John Russo. That seminal classic has inspired artists of all walks of life from film to paintings and music videos.

Directed by John Landis, the music video for “Thriller” by Michael Jackson was MTV’s first world premier video.

Debuted in 1983, “Thriller” was 13 minutes of pure zombie and werewolf suspense and featured master choreography for a dance number that is still performed by professional and amateur dancers today. 

The presentation continued with Espinoza and Greene discussing the current TV show created by Frank Darabont, “The Walking Dead.”

Since its debut in 2010, fans’ voracious appetite for the horror-drama has showed no signs of slowing.

“What is it about this version of zombies that makes it more popular?” said Greene, exploring his idea that zombies are a political connection with rampant consumerism and the end of the world or apocalypse.

Greene’s other talk, entitled “Why are Vampires Sexy?,” examines another pop culture icon in the horror world: that of the vampire.

Whether they are referred to as undead, walkers, living dead or zombies these sub-human creatures have survived and frightened generations of fans and are a prominent part of pop-culture today.

A Visit to the Boston Globe

The ride into the city is making me antsy. Kim Whiting, my editor-in-chief, Jowi Meli, copy editor, and I pass the time on the commuter rail by exchanging our usual commentary on life. This of course includes the stresses of putting together a paper.

We discuss what we’re going to put where and all I can think about is the Globe’s budget meeting that we’re about to sit in on. Budget meetings, for those readers who aren’t familiar with the journalistic take, are where editors and the photography staff of a publication discuss the next issue’s layout. Particularly the front page.

At the Observer, we cover NECC news, so there usually aren’t too many stories vying for that main story, front page spot.

I sit there imagining all the hard-hitting stories we’ll hear about at The Globe’s meeting.

Can this train go any faster?

I notice one of the men along for the ride with us is reading The Wall Street Journal.

Being the broke college student I am, I squint to at least catch the headlines.

“The U.S. supports Europe in … plan”

I need new glasses, but as mentioned, I’m broke. I guess I’ll never know what Europe’s big plan is that we apparently support.

I stop to wonder if the Globe might mention it. Maybe I’ll find out.

Finally, the train pulls into North Station and, after doing our good deed of the day and helping an older woman off the train, our little trio meets up with Professor Amy Callahan.

Callahan was the one who set this whole thing up.

Once upon a mattress, she was an intern at The Globe and she was nice enough to show us her old ID and her business card.

I must say, her sense of nostalgia made me even more excited for the tour.

It’s great to be able to get to know my professor outside of the classroom. She’s a remarkable, inspiring woman.

It may be next to impossible to hold a conversation on the red line because of all the noise, but Callahan takes the time to talk to us students about transferring, politics, social injustice and different social movements.

I rise in anticipation as our group pulls into the JFK stop and we exit the train. Whiting is sure to capture our adventure through the lens of her camera.

Stepping out on to the balcony of the station, Callahan is quick to admit that there have been a lot of changes since she last set foot here.

She regains her bearings and we begin our short trek down Morrissey Boulevard towards The Boston Globe.

As the distinct script of The Globe’s nameplate came into view on the brick building in front of us, I began to hyperventilate.

The excitement had manifested itself into a panic.

The building we were approaching is home of one of the most well-known, well-respected publications in the Northeast. As a reporter, I felt so small and under qualified for the morning ahead.

I calmed myself down to ensure that I didn’t make a fool of myself.

Once at The Globe, our group of four joined Cleo Brigham and Nick Pantinas in the lobby.

The lobby was filled with historically significant things: an enlarged copy of the first edition of The Boston Globe, published March 4, 1872; a plaque dedicated to Charles H. Taylor, builder of The Boston Globe; and a quote from Taylor known as the cornerstone.

I was mystified.

It was so humbling to see how far The Globe had come since its conception. It just put into perspective how much work goes into making a publication and how much of an evolution needs to occur to become as reputable as The Globe.

The first edition sold for 4 cents and had mostly religious articles and church gossip. Now its pages are filled with local, national and international news of all kinds.

At 10 a.m. we took our seats for the budget meeting. The staff began to file in behind us and it was so surreal to think that if I work hard enough, that could be me one day.

All of the stories were so meaty and newsy.

They had exclusives, as in people broke special news to them, and I thought that was just so unreal.

I’ve sat in on budget meetings before for the Observer and The Eagle-Tribune, but the news The Globe was breaking was nothing like anything I’ve seen pass through either of those newsrooms in my time.

Then there was the depth of the questions they were asking.

It showed such professionalism and experience that they thought to ask whose waters were being affected by turbines offshores.

Some of the stories were up in the air and the editors weren’t sure if they would be done, they weren’t sure if their sources would come through and they were really honest about that.

I couldn’t wait to see what made it into the paper when it came out the next day because I would feel like I was a part of it. All because I sat in on the meeting.

After the meeting we got to have a quick Q&A with Christine Chinlund and David Skok, the managing editors for print and web.

I was elated when I saw the seventh member of our group, Tracy Mukami, walk through the door. Better late than never.

Listening to the other students’ questions was cool, just to see where their curiosities laid, but I loved getting to ask my own.

Mine was particularly directed at Chinlund.

“What is it like to climb the ladder to get where you are?” I asked.

It was intriguing to get her advice to keep working. It was nice to know I’m on the right track, taking the right steps.

Chinlund and Skok thanked us for being a great group and of course we thanked them for their time and we moved on to the tour portion of the morning.

The Globe was a walk down Memory Lane for Callahan and I think that was one of my favorite parts, seeing people still there 20-something years later.

Journalism is a commitment.

It’s not something people get into for the money, it’s something they do because it’s their passion.

Getting to tour The Globe was an experience I will never forget.

Amesbury Street Property Donated

Louise Haffner Fournier’s family make donation


The Louise Haffner Fournier Education Center on Amesbury Street on the Lawrence Campus has gone from a rented building to a building that is now owned by NECC through a donation from the EMLO Realty Trust, which is under the direction of Joanne Fournier and the Fournier Family.

A unanimous vote from the board of Trustees brought the donation into reality.  

Kelsey Terry, a recent graduate of NECC and the Student Member of the Board of Trustees for the school year 2015-2016 said, “As I leave Northern Essex, I am glad that this happened while I was a Student Trustee. It is nice to have Northern Essex own the building that is worth so much.”

Joanne Fournier and her husband have been supporting NECC for many years. Fournier has been on the board of the Women of NECC since the group’s inception in 1996, said Jean Poth, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

Journalism major Christina Hillner said, “It shows that there are good people out there still. They care what is happening here at NECC, and they prove it with donations like the Fournier building.”

“The estimated value of the property is $1.45 million. The property includes three parcels of land totaling 39,444 square feet and two adjoined buildings totaling 24,008 square feet. It features a 1,500 square foot general science lab built in 2012, as well as classrooms, office and community spaces,” said Poth. “The two labs in the NECC/Fournier Educational Building are state-of-the-art and they were completed in the fall of 2013 and funded through the assistance of a grant and a private donor.”

Some students are excited to see Northern Essex expand in Lawrence. Alba Diaz, a longtime resident of Lawrence and a Business Transfer student, said, “I think this is a great thing, it helps to make Lawrence improve as a city.“

“There is a shining star showing in the city, and that is NECC. I could not be more proud to attend school here in my city and see the transformation that is taking shape,” said Diaz.

Theatre major Nate Miller said, “I was new to the Lawrence campus this semester and I also was an Orientation Leader, so I had to learn about all the building in Lawrence. It was nice to start saying it was our building due to a donation. It is a proud feeling.”

Jasmine Polanco, a Criminal Justice major, said, “I think its great because it shows the school wanting to expand more throughout the city.”

Polanco still had some questions that remain unanswered about how any future construction will affect school. She wondered if the classes that remain there are going to be the same.

The Louise Haffner Fournier Education Center became part of the Northern Essex community in 1999, when classes began to grow in Lawrence and the Dimitry Building was no longer big enough to house all classes. When the property first opened, it automatically allowed student growth in credited classes.


Opportunity Works has Moved In

Opportunity works its way to Northern Essex community

Northern Essex, as a community, has experienced hot weather, summer classes, and construction this past summer. The stairs for the main entrance at the Spurk Building are pearly white, classy, and ready for the upcoming semester. Adjacent to the Spurk Building is the newest addition to the NECC community: Opportunity Works.

In 1974, a group of Greater Newburyport-area residents began to discuss their concern about the lack of support services available to adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

According to their website, Opportunity Works began with “the vision of empowering people with disabilities to experience the freedom to live, work, and enjoy a valued role in society.”

Thirty nine years later, their vision is continued through dedicated workers like Melissa Merrow.

Melissa Merrow, Director of Program Operations, has been with Opportunity Works since 2009. She started off as the Day Habilitation Manager, then was promoted to Director of Specialized Day Services a year later.  Just this past June she was promoted again, this time to Director of Program Operations. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Business Minor from Salem State University.

“We partner with many people in the greater Newburyport and Merrimack Valley area,” said Merrow. “For example, our individuals volunteer at various churches and food pantries in the area. Volunteering gives them a sense of giving back to the community and also the confidence they need to obtain jobs in the community versus the volunteering.”

“We also visit local nursing homes monthly as a ‘Random Act of Kindness’ day! We go over and play cards, talk, enjoy their company, fulfilling for both agencies! By our individuals getting out into the community more it also gives the public a better understanding of who Opportunity Works is and what we do. We ensure people are reaching their maximum independence through personal and professional interests.”

Their vision, according to the website, is to set “leading standards of excellence among individual service providers in supporting people with disabilities and their families, empower the people we serve to fully achieve personal growth and a valued role in society, promote a positive and supportive work environment for employees, realize planned growth of existing programs, while ensuring our commitment to our core values, engage the community in supporting Opportunity Works to achieve our mission.”

Merrow also mentioned how Opportunity Works has many volunteer sites. These include things like the new “Special Stars” dance program this month. There’s also an annual International Week, where each program room is a different country, allowing members to “travel the world,” and a Holiday Bazaar, where donations received help the individuals make crafts and buy gifts for their families for the holiday season.

“We offer the Project Search program, there are only two in the state of Massachusetts. We are now offering college classes at NECC for our individuals,” says Merrow. Opportunity Works has two locations, in Newburyport and Haverhill. The Newburyport location is at 10 Opportunity Way, Newburyport, and the Haverhill location is located at 671 Kenoza Street, Haverhill.


Tarah MacGregor, a face of NECC

Tarah MacGregor. an honors student with a definite voice



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.