Two students from Northern Essex Community College were among just six students from across the state honored at this year’s Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association Scholarship Awards in Falmouth.
Anthony Severino and Maria “Ampa” Cubias are both involved in the college’s Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence Program, known as PACE, a TRiO Student Support Services program that assists first-generation, low-income or disabled students to graduate and transfer to four-year colleges.
Criminal Justice major Cubias, of Haverhill, is from El Salvador. She moved to the U.S. with her family as a teenager, in part to escape the dangerous political climate at the time. “As problems arose, it was impossible for people to obtain any sort of education,” she recalls. Cubais credits the PACE Program with helping her maintain that focus. As a straight-A student, she is on track to graduate in the spring of 2025. She plans to transfer to a four-year school to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
Business Transfer student Severino also appreciates the family-like atmosphere of support PACE provides. Though born in New York City, his parents moved the family back to their home country of the Dominican Republic when he and his twin sister were in elementary school. Severino knew his options would be limited after high school if he stayed there. Instead, he and his sister moved to Lawrence, without their parents, to pursue higher education.
“It was very difficult for me to leave my parents. They meant everything to me,” he says of that emotional time. Severino’s love of basketball led him to study sports management.
The scholarship awards $750 annually to TRiO students who have demonstrated the ability to overcome significant obstacles and attain educational excellence.