Last September, the day before classes were to start at Northern Essex Community College, Andover’s Matthew Ferreira made a last-minute decision to put his “gap year” on hold and enroll in liberal arts classes.
The decision, Ferreira said, was a smart one. He currently carries a 4.0 GPA, and “credits NECC with helping him find his direction while expanding and strengthening his academic foundation.”
For his efforts, the 20-year-old recently received The Women of NECC Scholarship of $1,000. He was one of four Andover residents to be awarded Northern Essex scholarships. In total, some 200 NECC students shared more than $200,000 in scholarships this year, according to a press release sent out by the school recently.
“I’m responsible for paying half my education, so this scholarship really helps,” Ferreira said.
A self-professed “textbook nerd” who estimates he reads several hundred books a year, Ferreira “is a man of many interests and talents,” according to the press release.
The 2015 Andover High School graduate called himself “a lackluster honors student,” who managed to graduate with seven Advanced Placement (AP) classes as well as classes from Harvard University that he took over two summers. Those courses included astrobiology, psychology, neurobiology and tissue engineering. This summer Ferreira completed theoretical physics as well as the fabrication of microfluidics.
While he arrived at Northern Essex, he said that although he brought a lot of academic accomplishments with him, he had no real direction.
“I wanted to be somewhere where I could try out everything,” Ferreira said. “As it turns out, Northern Essex is a really great place to do that.”
He explored a variety of majors eventually settling on mechanical engineering. Ferreira anticipates graduating in May of 2017 and “is already exploring transferring into a four-year engineering program at the likes of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, UMass Lowell, Georgia Tech, Cal Tech, MIT, and of course Harvard.”
In addition to his new found devotion to his studies, Ferreira volunteers at Lawrence General Hospital, served as acting treasurer of the NECC Science Club, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs.
According to the press release, his long-term goals include pursuing a doctorate degree in engineering or physics and combining one with a medical degree.
“Matthew is a very gifted young man who could make significant contributions to the community in a variety of different settings,” wrote Nancy Sivright, Ph.D., his abnormal psychology professor at Northern Essex in her letter of recommendation. “He has a strong desire to travel and indulge his many interests. All of these aspirations seem to be a reflection of his broad intellect as well as his desire to constantly learn and develop.”
Andover residents who received NECC scholarships for the 2016/2017 academic year:
Andy DiFut: Women of NECC Scholarship
Matthew Ferreira: Women of NECC Scholarship
Phuc Nguyen: Virginia Noonan - Paula Strangie Memorial Scholarship, McConnell Family Memorial Nursing Scholarship
Christine Ronquillo: NECC Presidential Scholar Award