AP NEWS

MCC’s ‘values’ Pointed the Way

February 24, 2019

When Dana Shahar graduated from Bedford High School in 2015, many of her peers headed off to Ivy League schools. She took a gap year to travel and figure out what career path to pursue.

In the fall of 2016, Shahar enrolled at Middlesex Community College.

“MCC mirrored all of the values I had come to prioritize in my life: motivation, commitment and community,” she said.

The affordability of starting her Bachelor’s degree at a community college was also a major consideration.

“I knew my parents couldn’t help fund my college career,” said Shahar, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel at age 3 with her family. “And I also knew I would be devastated by a future bogged down by debt. It took me a while to realize MCC was my answer.”

Registration is open for Spring Mini-mester II -- MCC’s next accelerated, eight-week session -- which runs March 25 through May 14. To enroll, visit www.middlesex.mass. edu/minimesters.

Two years later, Shahar, now 22, has graduated and is headed to UMass Lowell to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

“While my friends were racking up more than $100,000 in debt, attending predominately Caucasian universities and compromising their academics for parties, I was paying off each semester’s bill almost in full,” she said. “I was also meeting people from so many walks of life that I felt humbled and inspired.”

But it was much more than the price tag that endeared Middlesex to Shahar.

“MCC has changed my life, making me feel safe and welcomed. And it has transformed me into a more active member of the community,” she said.

During her second semester, Shahar decided to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. She had worked for many years as a nanny, as well as in the children’s department of a bookstore, and was leading children’s tours at a local museum.

“Middlesex has provided me with the resources to academically and professionally develop as an aspiring educator,” she said.

In her final semester, while balancing a full course load, Shahar was also working as a preschool teacher, a Hebrew-school kindergarten teacher and a Jewish youth group leader.

“All of my jobs tie directly into my career path, so I am constantly applying what I learn in my classes to my work with children,” she said.

Shahar hopes to work as a kindergarten assistant while earning her BA and someday have a classroom of her own. She would also like to come back to MCC to teach as an adjunct professor.

“Middlesex taught me that when you invest your heart, you find a home,” Shahar said. “Because of MCC, I will remain an active member of any future communities I am a part of -- be it UMass Lowell or our town library.”

For further information about MCC’s Education Programs, visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/education .