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NCC Alumni: On the Road to Northampton

Associate Professor Audrey Harvey discusses her journey to NCC. Photo Courtesy Zach Ransom.

NCC is a college that welcomes all sorts of people from different walks of life. Four different people came together to discuss their experiences and explained how they got from where they started to where they are now as members of the NCC faculty and staff.

The On the Road to Northampton event took place on Feb. 19 at NCC”s Laub Lounge and was sponsored by the NCC Hispanic Caucus and the International Students Office.

Audrey Harvey, Associate Professor who works at the NCC Library says that her road began in the mid and late 1960’s as she went through school as an African-American in times of great racial divide.

“My high school was 99.9 percent African-American, as was my neighborhood,” she said. “I attended a small liberal arts college in Newton Massachusetts, and I was one of 10 African-Americans in a school of 800 people.”

Harvey stated that she would not trade her experience at Northampton for anything and inspired current students to not be afraid of obstacles and chase their dreams.

“Don’t be afraid to have a big dream,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to start small.”

One of the more interesting stories at the event came from Greg Martin, Admissions Officer at NCC. Martin discussed how, as the son of a military family, he had to move to five or six different states and eventually ended up in an all-white school in Madison Connecticut. Martin and his brother were the only minorities at the school.

Martin was then recruited to attend Lehigh University to play golf, but said he wasn’t all that interested.

“I was recruited to Lehigh to play golf, but I majored in fun,” he said.

Martin also addressed his past ,which included an arrest for hustling textbooks and led to his removal from Lehigh for one semester.

Martin came to NCC after the ordeal and found that community college was a whole different animal.

“I had this stereotype of what community college was,” he said. “The teachers seemed a little bit more caring here.”

Tom Molinaro came to NCC after working at AT&T in Staten Island, New York and says that public speaking at various workshops related to his job prepared him for his current job as an Adjunct Professor in the English department. He also talked about how watching his teachers inspired him to become one himself.

“I was always watching teachers,” he said. “I liked seeing people import knowledge.”

Molinaro also stressed to the crowd that they shouldn’t miss important events like graduations.

”They’re important milestones in your life,” he explained.

Beatriz Sanabria-Melendez started her journey in the country of Costa Rica where she lived up until she was 12 years old. Melendez explained how she went from a “majority” in Costa Rica to a “minority” in the United States. Now she is a Counseling Instructor at NCC and could not be happier.  After Melendez graduated high school, there was a period of time where she was at crossroads, unsure where to go.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “It took me three years to decide to become a social worker.”

Melendez talked about how time can truly fly, even if students take one class at a time. 10 years of time went by in between her graduation from high school and obtaining a Bachelor’s degree from Cedar Crest College in Allentown.

She spoke about how NCC was an exciting place to be and can give young people an opportunity to begin to chase their dreams.

“Coming to a place where education is accessible to anyone is thrilling,” Melendez said.

She left those in attendance with one phrase that has defined her whole life and will continue to define her life until the very end.

“I’m not going to become a statistic.”