Sergio Ozoria, now 21, will tell you that he enrolled in college not just for the degree but “in hopes of learning more about myself.” So far, mission accomplished.
Migrating to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic at the age of 14, he completed his last semester at Bronx Community College (BCC) in the Fall of 2017, with a degree in liberal arts, a GPA of 3.59 and membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. But that doesn’t come close to describing the many opportunities he seized along the way that would contribute to his personal development.
BCC’s CLIP (CUNY Language Immersion Program) helped him become proficient in English. “CLIP gave me the confidence I needed to convey my thoughts and ideas publicly in English,” he says. While participating in CLIP he became involved in a career project with fellow students that helped him discover an interest in physical therapy and aspire to make that his career path.
Academically, he had struggled with math and biology. But thanks to tutoring provided by College Discovery, he overcame that challenge as well. Plus, it provided the financial assistance he needed to pay for books and school supplies.
As an LGBTQIA/Latinx student, at BCC Sergio was exposed to the kinds of positive social interactions, public debates and other activities that helped him become a proud advocate for social justice, especially on issues regarding disadvantaged LGBTQIA people of color.
“I think it is important for a college student to get involved on and off campus.” he says. As an example, through the Project Services to Assist Youth (Project STAY) program, run by Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, he does community outreach promoting health and wellness among groups at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Since completing his BCC studies in Fall 2017, he is now preparing for his next step at a four-year college. He has already been accepted at New York University, Boston University, and Stony Brook University. He plans to major in a health, psychology or a related major and ultimately earn a PhD in physical therapy. “BCC enriched me with both academic and personal knowledge that has shaped my identities.”
In addition to Sergio’s career plans in physical therapy, he hopes to work with New York City public school ESL students with physical disabilities. His objective is to provide medical services, safe spaces, and/or rehabilitation for transgender people before, during and after their surgical transitioning process without fear of discrimination. Given his strong interests in physical therapy, public health, and health promotion, he seeks to create an inclusive atmosphere in the medical field for underserved and low-income communities.