Northern Essex was one of only three schools in Massachusetts — and the only public campus — to receive a federal Title V grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions which helped fund a Student Success Center in Lawrence.
Kartletty Medina is a retention counselor at the Student Success Center.
“We’re that connecting piece, to help them get what they need to be successful in college,” Medina said.
She said half a dozen students stop by daily.
“You feel great because you see it in the smiles of students who didn’t think they could make it, and they have turned it around,” Medina said. “I can identify with those emotions and help them prove to themselves that they can make it.”
The center has been a godsend for Emmanuel Hernandez, 21, of Lawrence. After getting his GED through Job Corps, he was encouraged to enroll at Northern Essex. He stops by the career center daily to get advice on career choices, do his homework and talk.
“It’s good to come because it’s a good environment where everyone is willing to learn,” said Hernandez, a liberal arts student.
Staff members at the center also help students with college resources, child care, housing, financial, and mental health issues. The center has a faculty mentor program focusing on at-risk students, and a Summer Bridge Program to prepare Latino high school grads for their freshman year in college.
Glenn said the Student Success Center has earned its name. Students who used the center’s resources from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2013 had a 78.2 percent retention rate. Students who did not attend regularly had a 65.8 percent retention rate.
“I’d be lost without them, otherwise I’d be drifting off,” Hernandez said. “This is literally a second home for me. They help me put things in perspective and I’m helpful for that.”