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Student Lives Life to the Fullest by Helping Others

October, 2020
  • Student Lamar Brown-Noguera is often at QCC's main campus working with AIDS Project Worcester's COVID-19 drive-thru testing
    Student Lamar Brown-Noguera is often at QCC's main campus working with AIDS Project Worcester's COVID-19 drive-thru testing

Quinsigamond Community College student Lamar Brown-Noguera personifies the phrase “service before self.” Caring for others seems to come naturally to the Jamaican-born student. Whether it was helping those in his native country as a front of the house agent in the hospitality industry, to his advocacy with LGBTQ issues, or his work in an AIDS hospice in Jamaica, Mr. Brown-Noguera is passionate about helping others.

“Working in hospice care in Jamaica fulfilled the idea of what I wanted to put my energy into. One patient who I spent the day taking care of was a young woman at the end of her life. At the end of our time together she told me to never stop living life to the fullest and helping others,” he said. “I fostered that passion for helping others that was inspired by this interaction.”

In 2014, Mr. Brown-Noguera came to the U.S. Initially on a vacation, he decided to seek asylum in a country that he felt would give him more opportunities. Today, while still in the rigors of the asylum-seeking process, he has embedded himself in the Worcester community, advocating for LGBTQ issues with both the Supporters of Worcester Area Gay and Lesbian Youth (SWAGLY) and Queer The Scene (QTS), while attending QCC part-time. He also works as Community Relations Manager for AIDS Project Worcester.

His pathway to higher education came by way of the Clemente Course program at the Worcester Art Museum, which provides educational opportunities for under-privileged students. It was through this program that he became familiar with QCC.

“QCC was the best overall value.  As an asylum-seeker I cannot get financial aid; but the affordability of QCC made it easier for me to transition into the college and attend part-time, while also working in the human services industry,” Mr. Brown-Noguera said, adding that when he struggled to pay a bill the College worked with him so that he could remain in school.

Now his work with AIDS Project Worcester, a job that he said is “a marriage made in heaven," has taken him to QCC in a different capacity, where he is in charge of the COVID-19 drive-thru testing on the College’s main campus and four other Worcester sites. Testing at this site averages between 80-90 people per week. Testing is continuing four-days-a week through the end of October.

“Our biggest testing day thus far was when the flu clinic was also on campus. We tested 172 people that day,” he said.

While working full-time and attending QCC part-time, he has also found the time to stay engaged in the College community. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Black Student Union, a staunch advocate for the LQBTQ community, and even participated in the College’s #QCCVotes campaign.

“Voting is important to me because while I can’t vote, all the issues on the ballot relate to me and the people I serve and interact with on a daily basis. It’s so important for those who have the ability and opportunity to vote. I want to encourage them to use their civic right and vote,” Mr. Brown-Noguera said.

Today he is in his last semester at QCC and will be graduating in Spring 2021, with an Associate Degree in Human Services. He plans to transfer to Worcester State University and major in Urban Studies, concentrating in public policy and youth services. He dreams of one day being a part of a socially conscience organization like the World Health Organization, and hopes to inspire others to take the leap into higher education.

“I encourage everyone, including asylum seekers, to take advantage of all the opportunities here at QCC. There is so much that is readily available. My professors were willing to knock on doors for me that I never knew existed,” he said. “QCC’s infrastructure is designed to support you and help you reach your best potential. The programs are designed to help you succeed not fail.”