COVID-19 Update
In response to COVID-19, NDEC has shifted to a virtual learning platform to keep our students safe, engaged, and on track for success.  

According to an old Irish proverb, “It takes time to build castles.”  In other words, hard work and planning will lead to success.


NDEC graduate Joanne Matthews is proof of that proverb.  Her father was an American citizen, but Joanne grew up in Dundalk, County Louth, near the border with Northern Ireland.  She emigrated from Ireland in 2000 and ended up overstaying her visa.  The Dorchester resident finally got her green card in 2021.


Joanne had completed two years of college in Ireland.  She hoped to earn a nursing degree, but American schools wouldn’t accept her credits.  Being undocumented complicated the situation.  But Joanne was nothing if not resourceful, so she became a home health care provider.  “I had wonderful jobs, wonderful patients,” she says.  “But I couldn’t get a job with a real future.”


Her first step was to earn her GED from NDEC, which she completed in 2006.  “I was on track to go to college but I married and had kids,” she says.  Joanne took college courses in nursing when she could fit them in with her busy family life.  Then COVID hit and interrupted her plans.


“I had to redirect myself,” she says.  “I needed help with my resume, which was a mess.  I’d met Nathan [Hoffman, Workforce Development Program Manager] when I was at NDEC earlier, and when I reached out to him, he immediately said he’d help.”  Through Nathan, Joanne learned about the Medical Assistant program at Roxbury Community College.


Nathan also told Joanne that she could learn computer skills through NDEC’s partnership with Tech Goes Home.  “I’m not computer literate.  We hadn’t one in the house,” she admits.  “NDEC gave me everything I needed for distance learning.  It was absolutely fantastic.”

Joanne will finish the Medical Assistant program in December.  She is one of only nine students chosen to participate in an externship, and is waiting to learn where the 160-hour practicum will take place.  “I’m hoping to go to a big hospital like Mass. General and perhaps get help with my tuition so I can finish my nursing degree,” she says.  “I’m dying to get a good job.”