Commencement is a celebratory time on campus. To capture this year-end spirit, we asked our faculty to tell us which students they are most proud of. Some of those profiled in this year’s #CYProud 2016 feature have overcome significant personal and financial hurdles to reach their educational goals; others have distinguished themselves as exemplars of academic achievement and/or student leadership.
As part of this year’s series, we are pleased to introduce Omar Mercado who will transfer to Cal State University, Long Beach to continue his biology and pre-medical studies in the fall. Omar is a California Dream Act student who benefited greatly from our STEM(2) program.
#CYProud: Omar Mercado, Cypress to CSULB
- Origin — what is your back story (hometown, high school, personal story…)
Dream Big. This phrase continues to motivate me as a work each day to reach my goal of becoming a physician. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco in the country of Mexico. I migrated to the United States when I was 12 years old with my family in search for better opportunities. It was a challenge at first to adapt to the new environment and life style, but within six months I was speaking fluent English and going to school. Since moving to the United States, both of my parents have worked full-time jobs to be able to provide for me and my two other brothers. Due to this and being the first in my family to go to college, they didn’t understand our system of higher education. Without parents to guide me through the college application process in high school or to push and motivate me in my studies, I graduated not knowing what path to take to reach my dream. But I kept my dream alive. I knew that I wanted to become a doctor.
- Why Cypress?
I enrolled at Cypress College hoping to find a path that will lead me to become a doctor. I have lived in the City of Cypress for 8 years now and Cypress College was the closest institution. I knew that this was the place to plan out a road map in my premedical route.
- @Cypress — what have you been involved with? How has your path unfolded?
Over the course of my time here at Cypress I have been involved in student club organizations and have been part of the STEM^2 program. STEM² was the first program to provide me with guidance. I was introduced to mentors, counselors and workshops that encouraged me and provided me with knowledge that I need to advance along my premed pathway. Through the program I was also offered the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research at Cal Poly Pomona, where I had an extraordinary experience. I spent a summer at Cal Poly Pomona – living in the dorms and learning how to conduct research, develop my critical thinking skills, and work in a team. This experience has motivated me to continue to achieve my dreams and goals.
Over the past two semesters I have also served as the Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) Club Vice President. Being part of this club has reinforced my leadership and communication skills. I became Vice President with idea of helping others, by giving them advice and sharing knowledge that I acquired as a student. I wanted to create a support system for one another.
- Faculty or staff that have helped you get where you are today.
Yanet Garcia and Professor Rajab have been two of the people that have helped me in my pre medical career path. Both have encouraged me not to give up, and have opened new opportunities for me that will shape me into the future physician that I will one day become. Due to their support and guidance I have participated in amazing opportunities such as undergraduate summer research, MEDPEP at UCLA (Pre-Health Pipeline Program), and as the Vice President of the STEM Club.
- Post Cypress — what do you hope to do in the near term? What are your plans at CSULB?
As I transition to Cal State Long Beach as a Biology Major this fall 2016 I will continue to grow as an individual and on my pre-medical path. My academic plans at Long Beach are to join a pre med and/or health club, make strong connections with my professors, and seek opportunities for personal and academic development.
- Longer-Term Vision — what do you aspire to?
I have always had a passion and a great desire to help those who are in need. This desire grew as I experienced how low-income underserved communities struggle for patient-center care. I want to become a doctor to be able to provide excellent patient-centered care to low-income communities and others who struggle with health care access. Most of all, I want to save lives.
- What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of not giving up and of how much I have grown as a student and as a person. There were times of great struggle but I always kept pushing forward. I am truly grateful for those individuals who have (and continue to) empowered, motivated and helped transition to Cal State Long Beach.
- Anything else you’d like to add…
Never Give Up. Believe in Yourself and Dream Big!
Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:
– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.
– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.
– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)
– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)
– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)
– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”
– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And 85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.
– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.
– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles
– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles