Gov. Charles Baker to Honor Northern Essex Student

Carlos Rivera of Methuen.

It’s one thing to get good grades, but quite another when the governor notices.

A future medical student, Carlos Rivera of Methuen, is being honored by Gov. Charles Baker at the Massachusetts State House Monday, May 9 as an outstanding graduate of the class of 2016. He graduates from Northern Essex Community College in May with honors, receiving an associate’s in liberal arts: biology and psychology. Rivera was nominated for the honor by Maureen Saliba, assistant athletic director; Jennifer Graham, microbiology professor; and Niurka Aybar, student Success Center staff.

“Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Carlos. His drive to succeed, his passion, and his warmhearted nature will take him far in this world,” wrote Saliba.

A 2011 graduate of Lawrence High School, Rivera came to Northern Essex the fall after he graduated from high school. He admits, though, he didn’t get serious about his college education until a year and a half ago when he decided he needed to focus on his academics if he was going to achieve his goals in life. Since then, he has soared academically—he has a 3.8 GPA in his STEM courses—and become one of the most sought-after tutors on campus.

Rivera wants to be a neurosurgeon and he is planning to transfer to UMass Lowell in the fall, where he will major in biology and psychology. After that he will apply to medical school. He discovered his interest in medicine after interning with an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Lowell General Hospital who introduced him to surgery.

“I found I loved being there,” Rivera said. As part of his internship, he would stand in the operating room for up to four hours at a time, looking over the shoulder of the surgeon and observing surgery ranging from tonsillectomies to jaw replacements.

Rivera started tutoring after a Calculus 1 professor noticed he had an aptitude for math and asked if he would be interested in working as a tutor in the math lab. That led to a job as a supplemental instructor in algebra and trigonometry, where he taught weekly help sessions for students, and a position as a student assistant in the college Success Center, which provides support and resources for students on the Lawrence Campus. Rivera has also tutored students at the Guilmette School and Notre Dame High School, both in Lawrence.

Rivera has also been active in college athletics, playing varsity basketball for a year before deciding to focus on his academics. He also volunteers in the community through the athletics department at Core Unum in Lawrence and Open Heart Ministry in Haverhill.

Always intrigued by the mind and how it works, Rivera decided to major in psychology when he enrolled at college. When he discovered he had a passion for biology, he decided to investigate how he could combine his two interests, a journey that led him to neurobiology.