(NECN: Siobhan Lopez) - The stage is almost set for the hundreds of Clark University students who will cross it to receive their diplomas this weekend.
This month, thousands of college seniors will graduate across Worcester, Massachusetts.
"Many students are looking to stay in this area, if we can create the opportunities for them to do so," said Clark President David Angel, who chairs the board for the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts.
That organization is a collaboration of 12 colleges and universities in the region. Angel says one their top priorities is keeping these graduates in the area.
They're working with the city and other organizations to grow internship and research opportunities.
"Because that's what leads to the long term job offers in the region, and I'm very optimistic this will make a big difference in the city," he said.
Angel says a driving force in keeping students here is the growing number of opportunities in the health and engineering fields, but students say it's also the relationships they've made that makes it hard to leave.
"I have a really good network here," said Clark senior Brenna Merrill. "I know a lot of organizations in the city."
Merrill is from Chicago. She says even though it's hard being away from family, if she gets a job in Worcester, she'll take it.
"It's a nice place, and it's up and coming, so there would be a lot of opportunities," she said.
At Worcester Polytechnic Institute, senior Paige Westlake has a job lined-up in Central Massachusetts, thanks to an internship through her school.
"They've provided me a lot of great opportunities, and I'm excited to see where it will take me," she said.
"I'm very close to WPI," said civil engineering major Andrew Osei, a senior.
Osei is in the market for a job, and he's had a change of heart about going back home to New York.
"I decided to stay in the area, since my network and connections are here," he said. "It's like my new family's here."