Willy Gomez is an English High School junior and the son of parents who never finished middle school.
But he brought 40 adults to their feet applauding Tuesday morning as he talked about what a program called CommUniverCity means to him.
“These weren’t just classes, they were a step forward to the future,” Gomez said, wiping away tears.
He is one of 139 local public school students who enrolled in January in a program that gives high school students an early start on college. More than 100 students finished their courses at North Shore Community College (NSCC) with most of them, according to NSCC President Patricia Gentile, earning “B”s and “A”s.
Gomez’ father didn’t need to step into a college classroom to provide his son with the proper motivation to attend three hour-long college courses during afternoons, evenings and weekends.
“He tells me every single day nothing is impossible,” Gomez said.
Gomez and Classical High School student Sherley Ortiz-Robles are success stories in the making who have the opportunity to succeed thanks to the Lynn Public Schools and NSCC. The two education providers combined with the North Shore Workforce Investment Board to give motivated and ambitious young people the chance to grab hold of their futures and refuse to let go.
Gomez’ father raised his son to rise every morning and ask, “What’s next?”
For Gomez and Ortiz-Robles, a student who takes a college speech course, in part, because she is afraid of public speaking, the answer to that question knows no limits.
The two Lynn residents and other members of CommUniverCity’s inaugural class will use their combined high school and college coursework to springboard into two- or four-year colleges where they will get a jump start on careers.
Along with their fellow “early college” students and other young people in Lynn, they will hopefully fill the ranks of the city’s middle class and continue a Lynn tradition of hard-working residents owning homes and raising families in the city.
Chances are good Gomez and Ortiz-Robles might knock on opportunity’s door without CommUniverCity’s help, but the venture’s collaboration with North Shore Workforce Investment board builds a bridge between Lynn’s future workers and local job opportunities including health and manufacturing jobs.
Gentile commended Gomez, Ortiz-Robles and their fellow students for demonstrating “grit and persistence.”
Those attributes define generations of Lynn residents who made the city great.