One-stop shopping at North Shore Community College: GED+college credits=jobs

Members of the Wellspring House Completion course at North Shore Community College. From left to right: Kareyslla Oliveria, Nayanne Alves DeBrito, Veronika Kalantzi, Desiree Marte, Sameh Bousrih, Quendia Martinez, Rajaa Sahraoui, Susan Darosa, Jean Ndahunga. Child is Tasneem Bousrih. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — A dozen students were honored Thursday evening after completing a 12-week program designed to jumpstart their careers.

The recipients all had work experience in their home countries, but lacked the certifications to translate that experience into jobs in the United States. Circumstances such as that are some of the many that can prevent adults from gaining a college degree, which is why North Shore Community College partnered with Wellspring House, Inc., to create a program which provides a two-in-one education.

“Our two organizations have been working together for about three years,” said Melissa Dimond, President and Executive Director of the Wellspring House. “The purpose of everything we do is to improve access to post-secondary, or higher education, for folks who had a harder time accessing it.”

The community college and the organization, based out of Gloucester, partnered in this career pathway program for the development and implementation of the Ability to Benefit pilot program, which integrates adult basic education with college-level coursework. After successful completion, enrolled students may be eligible for federal financial aid. The program received some state funding that was leftover from the 2018 fiscal year budget to help run the program, and the two institutions covered the rest of the costs on their own.

“I believe we are the first partnership in Massachusetts to run an Ability To Benefit program that’s part of a career pathway,” said Dimond.

The program has a high success rate, with 12 of the 13 enrolled students completing the course. This particular group of students comes from a number of different countries, such as Morocco, Rwanda, Guatemala, Albania, Haiti, Tunisia and Brazil, where their long lists of work experience aren’t recognized in the United States because they are missing the required educational credentials.

“This program was designed so that once students finished the 12 weeks, they could then get into any one of 5 career paths in the college with 13 college credits already on their transcripts,” said Dimond.

The students who were honored at the college on Thursday were Nayanne Alves De Brito, Sameh Bousrih, Susan Darosa, Marie Jude Fortunat, Veronika Kalantzi, Wisdom Kamanda, Desiree Marte, Quendia Martinez, Jean Ndahunga, Kareyslla Oliveria, Chris Rogers and Rajaa Sahraoui. Most of them will continue their education at the community college, according to Dimond.

“We want folks to want to become more skilled for jobs, but if they can’t get in then that won’t solve that problem,” said Dimond. “They were prevented to get in and now we have opened up this opportunity for them.”

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