Celina Ortiz

“I chose SMC because I thought it would be a great first look at going to college. And I know that I’ll be well prepared for a university like UCLA.”

As is true of so many people from El Salvador, the family of Celina Ortiz is a tightly knit unit. But her family came very close to being torn apart. “I want to become a cardiovascular surgeon because—when I was growing up—I saw my dad struggle with heart disease. It actually caused his kidneys to fail, so he’s on dialysis now. And this inspired me to want to help other people in his situation.”

Science and Medicine are at the ‘heart’ of the matter for Celina, whose sister also went to SMC. And Celina’s getting a lot of intensive preparation at the College for her future in Medicine. “I’m in a program here called STEM, which is for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math majors. And I love this program, because we’re always talking about how women aren’t really represented in these kinds of fields. And we’re in a great partnership with UCLA,” Celina continues, “so we actually go to their campus and get mentored by their scientists. I feel like we’re getting tremendous amounts of professional help and advice.”

Celina admits to having some sad feelings about her native land. “And that’s why my parents brought us here. They simply wanted us to have a better life. They’d both been to college and had professions, but there was no work for them. And when people study something for years, but there’s nowhere for them to go, it becomes a pretty grim struggle. So I consider myself to be very lucky to be in America and getting my opportunity through education,” says Celina. “Because if you become educated, you’ll have the chance to positively change a lot of lives.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.​