The Laboratory Science Program at Northern Essex Community College was a long-awaited “perfect” fit for Lindsey Curole.
Curole always wanted to work in a laboratory. But when Hurricane Katrina destroyed her New Orleans apartment, it forced a several-year delay in her education plans as she relocated with relatives in different parts of the country and worked to get back on track financially. Six months after settling in Massachusetts with her boyfriend and getting a job as a hardware store cashier, Curole was able to enroll as an in-state student at Northern Essex Community College.
She chose NECC’s Laboratory Science program, after looking at several community colleges, because of the versatile skills it teaches. “We spent a lot of time in the lab and working on projects. I liked it that it was more hands-on,” Curole said.
NECC professors Noemi Cusodia, Marcy Vozzella, and Mariana Melo created the Applied Science Associate Degree program with an ATE grant to prepare students for entry-level laboratory technician positions at drug companies, cellular technology companies, manufacturing companies, and small environmental tests companies, as well as medical labs and government agencies. The professors are also using the ATE grant to support outreach efforts that target the growing Hispanic community in eastern Massachusetts.
Curole calls the faculty and staff at NECC “amazing” and explained that their mentoring placed her on track in her dream career. NECC faculty designed the Laboratory Science Program to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately or to transfer to four-year colleges. Curole is doing both.
The internship she got at Charm Sciences, Inc., through the NECC program, led to paid employment as a quality control technician. As a student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell—she transferred immediately after completing her associate degree at NECC—Curole works part time during the school year and full time in the summer.
For her job, Curole checks the diagnostic tests that the company makes for the food industry. Her duties included mixing and testing various chemical solutions, calculating statistics from the results, and charting these data in Excel. In addition to employing her full time during the summer of 2013, Charm Sciences allowed Curole to use its facilities for a research project she is completing for college credit.
“I really enjoy where I’m working,” Curole said. Her long-term career goal is to become a clinical microbiologist.