WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (June 10, 2021) — After Leah Mohammed-Vargas of Jamaica Plain, MA, graduated in 2008 from Snowden International High School in Boston, MA, she headed to nearby Newbury College to pursue her dream of earning a degree. As a first-generation college student, she worked hard and excelled in course work, loving the academic environment of a college campus. “After I completed my freshman year, I had to drop out of college to help support my family. My mom was unable to work and my younger brother was in high school, so I needed to help pay the rent and bills. I was devastated to leave Newbury. I felt like a failure, but I never gave up on that dream, and I was always hopeful I could go back to school,” said Leah.
She joined the workforce, starting in retail, when a friend told her about the Year Up program, which helps young adults gain skills and experience, while supporting them to reach their potential through career and education. “I joined Year Up, was trained in IT, and started working in a professional environment. This gave me confidence and led me to work on college campuses. I began as a temporary worker in the Wheelock College admissions office, where I was encouraged to restart my education. My colleagues suggested that I attend MassBay due to its affordability. MassBay provided me with a high-quality education, allowing me a path to achieve my degree. After starting my classes, I landed a job in the MassBay admissions office. I was earning money to support my family, while securing credits toward my degree,” added Leah.
Leah studied liberal arts at MassBay, focusing on communications and earned her degree in three years. “I wanted to focus on both school and work simultaneously and MassBay provided me with the flexibility I needed to do that. I was determined to succeed, not only for me, but for my mom, and to show my little brother he could do it, too,” said Leah. She graduated from MassBay in May 2017 with her associate in arts degree and transferred to Suffolk University in Boston, MA to pursue her bachelor’s degree. At Suffolk University, Leah majored in global and cultural communications with a minor in English and worked in their graduate admissions department. She graduated from Suffolk in May 2021.
“I’m lucky to have had many strong women in my life—my mom, my Wheelock colleagues, my MassBay professors and administrators—behind me, supporting me, and showing me a path forward. It has taken me 13 years to earn my associate and bachelor’s degrees, but I am so proud that I achieved my goals and did it all debt-free. I credit a lot of my success to MassBay and the supportive people teaching and working there. MassBay is how it all started for me, and I could not have walked into a better situation to prepare me for my future. Now, I’m focused on earning my master’s degree in fine arts at Emerson College in popular fiction writing and publishing. As someone who’s passionate about writing, and the effort that goes on behind the scenes, I would love to work in publishing someday, helping writers achieve their own goals,” said Leah.
MassBay Community College is the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest Boston, offering a robust portfolio of courses and more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs with flexible day, evening, and weekend classes in Ashland, Framingham, Wellesley Hills, and online. MassBay students receive an unmatched educational value by earning stackable credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready skills necessary to advance careers in high-demand fields such as health and life sciences, automotive technology, engineering, business, cybersecurity, and the humanities. MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and Practical Nursing (LPN) programs were both ranked as the #1 Nursing Program in Massachusetts in 2020-2021 by national nursing advocacy organizations RegisteredNursing.org, and PracticalNursing.org. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and remains firmly committed to its mission of meeting the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. We value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, collectively in pursuit of inclusiveness and prioritize our work towards achieving equity within our community and beyond.