Northern Essex Community College Distributes Graduation Packages to the Class of 2020

Kaileigh DeCosta of Merrimac and her aunt Adina Sulesky of Plaistow, N.H. Sulesky graduated from Haverhill High School in 1996. (Courtesy photograph.)

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn and graduate Omayra Gonzalez of Lawrence. (Courtesy photograph.)

Three-hundred Northern Essex Community College 2020 graduates came to the Haverhill Campus last Monday during the course of the day to pick up their diplomas, celebration packages, and Class of 2020 yard signs.

They were greeted by balloons, music, cheering Northern Essex faculty and staff and the NECC Knight mascot portrayed by student trustee Courtney Morin, who posed for photographs. Social distancing was practiced including the wearing of masks.

The youngest grad was likely 17-year old Jack Gilmore of Topsfield, who earned an associate degree in General Studies: Individualized Option, thanks to the Early College Program. Gilmore, who also earned his high school diploma from Masconomet Regional High School this spring, will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall, where he will study mechanical engineering. His proud mom reported that he will begin college as a sophomore, and graduate at least a year early with his bachelor’s.

Kaileigh DeCosta of Merrimac and her aunt Adina Sulesky of Plaistow, N.H., arrived together to pick up their diplomas and packages, making it a family affair. DeCosta, a 2017 graduate of Amesbury High School, earned her degree in General Studies: Individualized Option and will transfer to Becker College in the fall. Sulesky, who graduated from Haverhill High School in 1996 and is graduating with high honors from Northern Essex’s Criminal Justice Program, wants to take some time off before continuing her education. “It took five and a half years to earn this degree, so I’m ready for a break,” she said with a smile.

Omayra Gonzalez of Lawrence arrived on her own two feet to pick up her diploma, having been dropped off at the entrance to the campus. She graduated with a Liberal Arts: Psychology degree and will transfer to UMass Lowell to continue her studies.

The graduates shared their plans to transfer to UMass Lowell, Merrimack College, Southern New Hampshire University, Northeastern, Regis, Cambridge College and many others, as well as excitement about new jobs with Mass General, Brigham’s & Women’s Hospital, Lawrence General, and Lowell General.

Northern Essex President Lane Glenn greeted many of the graduates personally. “This has been a challenging semester due to the impact of COVID-19,” said Glenn. “I couldn’t be more proud of this class. They’ve been through so much but they didn’t quit. They are truly an amazing group.”

For those who couldn’t make it, the college will hand out diplomas and celebration packages on the Lawrence Campus on Thursday, June 25, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot area of the Dimitry Building at 45 Franklin Street.

Also planned, with help from HC Media, is a commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 11 a.m. While it’s being offered virtually, the ceremony will include many traditional elements. Early Childhood Education Graduate Emily Forisso of Haverhill will open the ceremony with the national anthem. Rosanna Lara, a Public Health major from Lawrence, will deliver the student speech, and Rosalin Acosta, Massachusetts secretary of labor and workforce development, will give the commencement speech. Also, the college’s Social Justice Award and the Gift from the Class of 2020 will be announced.

Each of the 600 graduates is being asked to submit a photograph which will be shown as part of the ceremony, along with a virtual diploma.

2020 Graduates will also be invited to participate in next year’s commencement exercises, which will recognize both the class of 2020 and the class of 2021.

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