College Presents Army Veteran Merced with ‘Challenge Coin’

NECC Veteran’s Services Coordinator Jeff Williams presents Justin Merced with the challenge coin.

Recent Northern Essex Community College graduate and U.S. Army Veteran Justin Merced of Lawrence was the first recipient of NECC’s Veterans’ Services newly created “Challenge Coin” given in recognition of outstanding achievement. In the United States Military, it is custom for unit commanders to typically use challenge coins in recognition of service members’ outstanding performance or achievement, according to Williams.

“By presenting the coin in front of the recipient’s peers, commanders show that hard work is rewarded and build morale within the unit,” said Williams. “The intent behind the NECC Veterans’ Services coins is to provide a familiar method of recognition to student veterans and military students for their academic and on-campus achievements.  It demonstrates that their accomplishments do not go unnoticed and benefits their success by building a supportive on-campus environment.”

Williams says Merced was the obvious choice to receive the first NECC Veterans’ Services Challenge Coin. Merced was the President of the NECC Veterans’ and Service Persons’ Organization. He was also the NECC Student Commencement speaker during Northern Essex’s 53rd Annual Commencement Exercises in May.

“Justin’s academic success and heavy involvement in NECC’s student life are outstanding examples for others to follow,” says Williams. “I truly appreciate Justin’s efforts to raise the visibility of student veterans and military at NECC and wish him the best of luck for the future.”

Merced graduated with high honors with an associate degree in liberal arts with a concentration in writing. He served as vice president of the NECC student senate, he was a representative on the all college assembly, served on the advisory board to NECC president Lane Glenn, was vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honor society, and participated in the Honors Experience. He was also recently honored at the State House with a 29 Who Shine Award, recognizing his remarkable success as a student and leader.

He will transfer to Rutgers University in the fall where he will enroll in the premed program.