Imagine a sailor or Marine stationed thousands of miles away spending their free time taking online classes through Northern Essex Community College.
Stop imagining. That's what will happen now that NECC, with campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, was selected as one of 119 community colleges across the nation to partner with the U.S. Navy in establishing the United States Naval Community College.
The purpose of the program is to provide college educations to the nation's enlisted members to enhance the combat and deterrence effectiveness of the Navy and Marine Corps.
"This is an endorsement of our cutting-edge programs and our strong online options," said Northern Essex President Lane Glenn. "As the son of a career Marine, I am excited that Northern Essex will be able to play a role in strengthening the skills of our military."
The Navy was looking for accredited colleges that offer online programs providing skills such as computer science, cyber security, engineering, business and organizational leadership, Glenn said.
Plans are to launch the fully online program in January with a nationwide pilot group of about 500 sailors and Marines, followed by a second pilot program with 5,000 students in 2022. The program is expected to grow each year, reaching full-scale operations of up to 25,000 students across the 119 community colleges by January 2023.
Officials at Northern Essex said they do not know at this time how many members of the Navy or Marines will register for online courses under the pilot program that starts in January.
Navy officials said the Naval Community College program was created as a result of a survey that found the talent and intellectual potential of America’s enlisted sailors and Marines was not being fully utilized.
Meeting the needs of veterans, military service members and their family members has always been a priority at Northern Essex, officials of the college said. More than 200 veterans or students with military connections are currently enrolled at NECC, and the college has a veterans center where students who are veterans can learn about their benefits and receive guidance to support their education.
More information about the NECC Veterans Center is available from center director Kalyn Ryll at email@example.com.