Owning Greatness, Part 1 – Jennifer Mezquita
Women Leaders of the Merrimack Valley Seek to Innovate and Transform
There are many leaders throughout the Merrimack Valley, including five exceptional women we’ll highlight during the coming weeks. They are leaders in their industries, respected by colleagues and the public, and at the forefront of changing the landscape for women in their fields.
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Northern Essex Community College
Jennifer Mezquita understands the struggles and challenges faced by students at a community college. She has walked in those shoes.
“My love for higher ed began when I was an undergrad at a local community college,” she says. “I’ve seen what it’s done for me and what it can do for others as well.”
A two-year financial scholarship enabled Mezquita to attend Valencia College in Florida, where her work-study job in the admissions office, giving tours of campus, exposed her to the opportunities of a career in education.
After getting her associate degree, Mezquita attended the University of Florida, where she earned a B.A. in food and resource economics. A native of the Dominican Republic who moved to the U.S. when she was 10, Mezquita planned to become an attorney who would focus on helping agricultural workers.
Life, however, showed her another path. After marriage and a child, Mezquita pursued a career in banking — but it never felt like the right fit. She missed the one job that never felt like work: higher education. A friend pointed her in the direction of a master’s degree in educational leadership and told her she could pursue a career in academia. She later earned her doctor of education degree in higher education and policy studies.
After stints at colleges in Florida and California, Mezquita needed to return to her passion — working with students. She saw a post for the job she now holds at Northern Essex Community College.
As a Latina, the demographics of the students and the NECC campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence appealed greatly to Mezquita. She felt she could serve students who were like herself, and help break down obstacles to higher education.