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Steven Ochoa
Steven Ochoa
Steven W. Ochoa, a social science major from Brooklyn, New York, had a dream to attend a huge university. He applied to 25 colleges and was accepted into 14 of them. Thanks to Steven's guidance counselor at Bushwick Leaders' High School in Brooklyn, one of the colleges was Cazenovia College. "My guidance counselor agreed to help me apply to that many colleges on one condition I had to apply to a small college: Cazenovia College."

Steven's counselor was convinced that Cazenovia was the perfect fit for him. She felt that based on his personality, he would thrive in the small, intimate setting. "And when Caz offered me the best financial aid package out of the 14 colleges that accepted me, I began to seriously consider Cazenovia College," he says. Following his graduation from high school, Steven also realized that personal finance would be a determining factor in his ability to attend college. "I realized that I would need assistance from the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) in order to attend college."

After contacting Sheila Marsh, Cazenovia's associate director for HEOP, and learning more about the program and Summer College at Cazenovia College, Steven was all for attending. However, Summer College was already at capacity and he was added to the waiting list. "I called Sheila every day to see if there was an opening," Steven recalls. But there was no opening and Steven began to think his dream of attending college would never become a reality.

His world changed one week later when he received a memorable phone call. "After a student dropped out of HEOP, Sheila Marsh called and asked me how quickly I could get to campus. I told her I'd be on the next bus out of Brooklyn, and I made it to Cazenovia by 10:30 that same night."

Steven had never visited Cazenovia College during his college search so his arrival in the late evening hours made it difficult for him to visualize the campus the place that would soon become his home. He still recalls the next morning when he awoke to the sound of the grounds crew mowing the lawn on the Quad and thought how beautiful this college in a country setting was to a "city boy."

Already a week behind his peers, Steven had to catch up quickly. He credits Summer College with teaching him how to study more effectively, adapt to the changing demands of college coursework, and "avoid procrastination at all costs," he laughs. "Summer College taught me how to be a full-time college student and really prepared me for the fall semester."

In addition to his academic course work, Steven was eager to get involved in college life and be active and engaged on campus. He was elected president of the freshman class, participated in the Student Government Association (SGA), and joined the Social Sciences Club.

A student of the Social Science Program, Steven has high praise for his professors. "Dr. Greene, Dr. Dettmer and Dr. Sloan are so knowledgeable, but even more impressive, they are skilled at challenging and critiquing their students while supporting them every step of the way. Our education has been grounded in thinking critically, analyzing history, and looking at research from different perspectives." Steven cites his Historical Research Methods class, and Social Theory class for pushing him to think on a deeper, more meaningful level, which has resulted in his wanting to learn more, engage in more dialogue and seek out critical discourse.

In the fall semester of his junior year, Steven jumped at the chance to study abroad in Canterbury, England. "It was an amazing opportunity to study and live with other students who possess different cultures, different personalities. This immersion into living and learning in another country was particularly enlightening to me as a Social Science major."

Steven has been a master student for Effective Speaking, and Multicultural Contributions, and given back to the College by helping other students as a Summer College Peer Mentor. He looks forward to his senior year when he will serve as president of the SGA, president of the Social Science Club, and serve as a master student for Dr. Chris Geyer's First Year Seminar course, The Secret Life of Money. He also has a clear academic goal as he closes out his undergraduate education. He says, "I want to graduate with the most outstanding senior capstone in the Social Science Program." He is so motivated that he will commence work this summer, before his senior year begins, on his capstone project that will focus on a topic relating to the Cold War.

As Steven thinks ahead to life after Cazenovia, he looks back on what has become his home. "Home is no longer back home; it's here home is Caz." He speaks glowingly of the amount of support he has received from faculty, staff and administrators. "I have always felt wanted at Caz; everyone on campus has always supported me, stood behind me and advocated for me. My success thus far would never have been realized if I didn't come to Caz, nor would my future paths to success."

Steven plans to attend graduate school after completing his education at Cazenovia College. He will apply to three institutions in the United States, where he would further his studies in political science; and three institutions in England, to seek a graduate degree in International Relations. He is confident and stresses that wherever he goes, he will continue to move forward in life based on his own personal theory: "If you set a goal at the highest possible level, you will put forth your absolute best and the results will be positive and sometimes astounding."

"I have always felt wanted at Caz; everyone on campus has always supported me, stood behind me and advocated for me."

Social Science
Brooklyn, NY
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