LAWRENCE — Students at Northern Essex Community College who need extra help with their homework, time management, setting goals and exploring career paths now have a place to go.

The school at 45 Franklin St., opened a Student Success Center after receiving a $135,053 State Performance Incentive Grant.

The college also received a $2.7 million federal Title V grant to help Hispanic students.

The five-year grant will enhance services currently offered through Student Success Center and the One-Stop Career Planning and Advising Center both located at the Lawrence Campus.

"The point of the grant is to do outreach," said Mary Ellen Ashley, executive vice president of Northern Essex. "We want to make them aware of what we have, connect them with the departments here to enhance their academics."

The center is for students who may be struggling in college no matter what age they are, said Dawna Perez, associate dean of access and community building at the Lawrence campus.

Professors will identify students who are struggling academically such as not participating in class, falling behind in their work, or whose work schedules are affecting their studies.

"Part of the problem is they don't come to us with whatever gets in their way of getting an education," Perez said.

The center will have tutors to help students having problems in subjects including biology, chemistry and accounting

The center will work with the students in implementing planned intervention programs, then go back to the teachers to see how they are improving in the classrooms.

"The ultimate goal is for them to achieve the dream of finishing college," Perez said.

Karla Cruz, 20, a business major at Northern Essex, said having the center at a school where most of the students' first language is not English its very important.

"There's always something that you either did not understand in class or was not explained well," Cruz said. She moved from the Dominican Republic two years ago and enrolled in a year of ESL courses at Northern Essex. Cruz is taking her first college-level courses this semester and is a work study student in the Student Success Center.

"The more help a student gets, the better it is for us because it would help us succeed in life," said Cruz, whose majoring in business.

In 2001, the Lawrence Campus of Northern Essex was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education making the school eligible to receive Title V funds.

The next year, the college received a $2.2 million Title V Grant used to create the Career Planning and Advising Center in Lawrence and other initiatives to help its Hispanic students succeed.

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