About the NCEOC

The mission of the North Central Educational Opportunity Center (NCEOC) is to be an educational access resource to north-central Massachusetts adults who are motivated to change their lives through college enrollment and to inspire and engage them in thinking beyond limitations and obstacles as they strive to achieve their educational and career goals.

The NCEOC has been providing free college planning services to adults throughout north central Massachusetts since 2002. The NCEOC is a five-year, $1,368,965 TRiO grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by Mount Wachusett Community College.

Most NCEOC students are low to moderate-income adults (age 19 +) who may be the first in their families to attend college.  Many seek education or training to begin their careers, re-enter the workforce or simply to increase their earning potential. The NCEOC staff understands adult learners and their concerns. Education Specialists work individually with each student to create a realistic student learning plan that includes choosing a major, choosing a college or program, applying for admission and applying for financial aid and scholarships.

NCEOC Hours & Contact

Leominster Campus
100 Erdman Way
Leominster, MA 01453
P: 978-630-9823

Open Monday – Friday, 8 am to 4 pm. Evening hours are available upon request.


Valerie LaPorte

As a former non-traditional adult student, Valerie understands what it takes to be a successful student while working and raising a family. She graduated from Mount Wachusett Community College with an A.S. in Early Childhood Education. She went on to earn a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Non-Profit Management from Worcester State University. She joined the staff of the NCEOC as Assistant Director/Education Specialist in 2002 and was promoted to Program Director in 2005.

Sandy Tavares
Assistant Director
Sandy joined the EOC team as assistant director/community outreach counselor in June 2016 and provides services to program participants in English and Portuguese. She is a first-generation college graduate, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UMass Dartmouth in 2004 and Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College in 2007. She worked as a TRiO Program Advisor/Counselor for Talent Search in New Orleans, LA, a TRiO Retention Specialist/Academic Advisor for Student Support Services Rx program at MWCC, and as an academic counselor at MWCC and Quinsigamond Community College. 

Fernando Garcia-Rodriguez
Community Outreach Counselor
Fernando joined the EOC in May 2016 and provides services to program participants in English and Spanish. As a Fitchburg High School student, Fernando participated in the GEAR UP program and later returned to work as a student activities officer. He received an Associate Degree in both Business Administration and Liberal Arts and Sciences from MWCC in 2010, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Worcester State University in 2015.

Cassandra Peltola
Community Outreach Counselor
Cassie is a native of Leominster and a first-generation college graduate, earning Bachelor’s Degree’s in Psychology and English at Wheaton College, and a Masters in Education in Community Engagement from Merrimack College. She served for two years as a Campus Compact AmericCorps*VISTA and then three years working in the Center for Social Justice and Community Impact at Wheaton College. She has benefitted greatly from student aid, and believes in the power of education and helping others to achieve their educational goals.

NCEOC Partners

The NCEOC works with many different agencies and programs to assist students in successfully meeting their educational goals. Agencies and programs play an important part in the process either by referring people interested in continuing their education, or a NCEOC counselor may refer a participant to a particular agency for assistance. Either way, it is all about student success!

Battered Women’s Resources

Childcare Resources

Clinton Adult Learning Center

Corporation for Public Management

Department of Transitional Assistance

Fitchburg Police Department

House of Peace & Education

Leominster Housing Authority

Literacy Project, North Quabbin

Literacy Volunteers of the Montachusett Area

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

Making Opportunity Count (MOC)

MWCC Adult Education and Training


MassHire North Central Career Center

North Central MA WIB

North Quabbin Community Coalition

Shriver Job Corps

Spanish American Center

Training Resources of America

Winchendon Housing Authority