Shekinah Maxwell, Class of 2016

When Shekinah Maxwell committed to attending NCC, she enrolled in the Smart Start program. On day one, she was asked to fill out a piece of paper with things she wanted to do and learn, and objectives she wanted to achieve. She wrote down three things: to meet new people, learn new skills, and take on new challenges. Less than one year later, she's been able to achieve all of that and more, and now finds herself in a position to possibly build on more than one skill as she continues her education.

"I have a bunch of dreams and interests, as a lot of people do," says Maxwell. "I'm pursuing dental hygiene, but I also want to do radio and TV. I don't just want to earn this degree and sit on it. I want to be able to travel to areas where people may not be able to afford dental care, and provide it for them. I also want to do radio/TV so at the same time, I can document these things as I'm traveling. It's about helping other people and experiencing new things in the process."

Maxwell is the second member of her immediate family to pass through the classrooms at NCC, with her brother, Manny, taking classes here ahead of her. It was Manny who initially explained that the dental hygiene program had a great reputation, but that information became solidified for her when customers at her job at a local grocery store all began talking up the program.

"It seemed like a good number of my customers were in the field, and they were coming back to me with feedback about how rewarding and amazing the program is. A lot of them actually graduated from Northampton," says Maxwell. "I had explained to them that I had an interest in it, and they just fed that interest. Even though it was from strangers, I was getting support in what I wanted to do. They were saying to go for it...that it was tough and challenging, but rewarding. I like taking on new challenges."

Finding such a close-knit community at NCC has further fueled Maxwell's desires to make the most of her experience here. She's finished her prerequisites for the dental hygiene program and will begin the core classes this fall. She's also led new students on orientation for their first semesters here, and has taken advantage of other opportunities to get involved on campus. Her hope is to help inspire other students the way that she, herself, has been inspired since she walked through the doors of NCC.

"I've developed a lot and I've met so many new people without even trying. I've always felt like the faculty and staff are ready to help at the drop of a hat, too. They've helped me achieve so much this first year," says Maxwell. "I would tell new students to take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way. You're given so many chances to excel here."