Lana Violet is applauded for her accomplishments at NECC.

Extending the promise

By Melissa Bouse

Northern Essex Community College (NECC) is scaling up its Promise programs. The Massachusetts college, with the support of Newburyport Bank, has created the new Seacoast Promise Program.

Building on the success of the Lawrence and Haverhill Promise Programs, the Seacoast Promise will provide full tuition, fees, and books to early college graduates from Seacoast area high schools who wish to complete their associate degree at Northern Essex. This new program was created with a $250,000 pledge from Newburyport Bank.

“This is important,” said Newburyport Bank President Lloyd Hamm, Jr., who participated in an early college program when he was in high school and was a first-generation college student. “Northern Essex gets students to the next step, whether that’s employment or onto a four-year institution. They play an important role in changing someone’s life, which changes their families and their communities.”

The Early College program at NECC has grown from 250 students when it began in 2018 to over 1,000 students participating this year. Students choose one of six pathways when joining: Liberal Arts, Education, Criminal Justice, STEM, Health Care or Business. In the fall 2023 semester, the Early College program served 875 students who earned 4,457 credits – an average of just over 5 credits per student.

On Tuesday, leaders from Northern Essex, Newburyport Bank, Pentucket Bank and surrounding communities gathered for an event to celebrate the Seacoast Promise at Newburyport Bank’s State Street location. Local high school guidance counselors were also in attendance, along with students who spoke about the benefits of Early College and affordable higher education.

“As a student who works two jobs and has responsibilities at home, the Promise Program has helped to reduce the challenges and stress that come from balancing work and academics,” said Lana Viola, who took early college classes while at Whittier Regional Vocational High School and is now continuing as a full-time student at Northern Essex under the Haverhill Promise Program. Viola will graduate next spring with her associate degree in Civil Engineering.

Leila Grasso is a senior at Newburyport High School who is currently taking early college classes at Northern Essex. “When I graduate high school this spring, I’ll have taken 15 early college classes. It will allow me to move right into my core classes in my major when I get to UMass, and I’ll finish in two years.”

The event also honored the contributions of Pentucket Bank to Northern Essex’s Haverhill Promise program, now in its fifth year.

To be eligible for Promise Programs at Northern Essex, students must earn at least 15 credits in Early College and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

This article was originally posted here.

Melissa Bouse

is director of public relations at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts.