Community colleges can be a stepping stone for students interested in a variety of fields, including aspiring medical students. In fact, some of the most passionate aspiring medical students complete their first two years of prerequisites at a community college, primarily because it makes the most sense for their finances and educational path at the time. In Evelyn Galarza's case, her last-minute enrollment and intervention on behalf of one of her professors led to her pursuing biological sciences at NCC - a degree which will cover many of the pre-med credits she requires.
"After I graduated from Easton High School, I was going through some family issues and ended up signing up for classes late. It was two weeks before school was supposed to start," Galarza explains. "I didn't want to waste an entire semester. When I first came in to choose my classes, professor [Dr. David] Gelormo asked me why I was going for general studies. He said that in biological sciences, I would like what I was learning, and it would cover the pre-med stuff. It was great because it felt like I was heading toward my goal of medicine."
Galarza discovered at a young age that a hospital environment is where she felt comfortable, where she could thrive, and where she could offer care and support to others who need it.
"When I was younger, I was very sick and spent a lot of time in the hospital. I really got to learn and love it. I wanted to be everywhere, working with the nurses and doctors and even just interacting with the other patients," says Galarza. "I know what it's like from the patient perspective. So now that I'm up to this point, I want to go on the doctor perspective and make an impact and let patients know 'I'm here to help you'."
If Galarza's involvement at NCC is any indicator, she's sure to make an impact wherever she goes and in whatever she does. When counseling professor Teresa Donate suggested that Galarza apply to attend a student leadership seminar, Galarza was initially hesitant. She didn't consider herself to be an outgoing person, but actually earning a spot in the seminar and interacting with the other students changed her mind. From there, she also became a member of the Student Senate, and her peers voted her into the treasurer's position for the past academic year.
"Little by little, I just started going to events, and then I met Frank (Pologruto, Director of Student Life) and he tells you a million things to do. It was because of him and Teresa that I felt like they saw potential and strengths in me that I didn't really know I had before," explains Galarza. "One thing I learned is if you don't try, you won't know what you're capable of."
Galarza intends to transfer to a four-year school and continue working toward her goal of working in medicine. She dreams of working in cardiac care, although she also has a long-term goal of opening up free clinics to treat those who cannot otherwise afford health care. Whatever the future holds, however, she won't soon forget the lessons she learned at NCC.
"I've had some of the best professors who have been extremely knowledgeable, and I feel like this is a great place where everyone wants to help you and see you succeed," says Galarza. "Everything and everyone about this college has prepared me for the future."
Name: Evelyn Galarza
Major: Biological Science
Projected Graduation Date: 2013