It took Ted Gaiero 57 years to get his diploma from Northern Essex Community College, and now that he has it, he couldn’t be happier.
Gaiero enrolled at Northern Essex in 1962 as a member of the college’s second class. When it came time to graduate in the spring of 1964, he didn’t have the credits to get his associate's degree in liberal arts. He transferred to Suffolk University that fall, but always regretted not graduating from Northern Essex.
Gaiero earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Suffolk in 1972, after being drafted and serving in Vietnam, and he’s just a few credits shy of a master’s degree in education from Salem State.
After retiring from a successful career in sales and a second career working as a paraprofessional in the Haverhill school system, Gaiero kept thinking about the associate's degree that he never got from Northern Essex.
"It’s a part of my life that I worked for, and I want to see it through," he said.
Gaiero, 76, is well known in the community. A long-time member and altar server at Sacred Hearts Parish, he was Mayor Theodore Pelosi's campaign manager in the 1970s. Gaiero's family owned American Grocery on Essex Street, which closed in the early 1960s. His youngest brother, David, is co-owner of EZ-Way Cleaners in Bradford and Haverhill. Gaiero's oldest son, Darren, runs Multi-Grains Bakery in Lawrence while his youngest son, Matthew, along with his wife, Denise, recently opened G's Restaurant in downtown Haverhill, at the site of the former Pedro Diego's restaurant. The elder Gaiero was also a founding member of the Pentucket Kiwanis Club in 1975.
When Northern Essex President Lane Glenn learned about Gaiero’s desire for a NECC degree, he reached out to Sue Shain, the college’s registrar, who was able to transfer Gaiero’s credits from Suffolk to Northern Essex, a process which is called "reverse transfer."
Through reverse transfer, students who made progress toward an associate's degree prior to transferring may apply credit earned at a four-year institution back to their community college to complete the associate degree requirements.
In June, Gaiero visited President Glenn’s office and was personally presented with his associate degree. His name will be included in Northern Essex’s 2020 commencement program as a member of the class of 2020.
Gaiero was beaming.
"It feels phenomenal. I’m just very proud," he said. "Now I just need to find a place to put it."
If you are interested in learning more about reverse transfer, contact Shain at email@example.com or 978-556-3710.