by Andrew Campbell, SPC student and writing tutor in the Learning Commons, Seminole campus
When the reality of middle age finally sinks in for most people, the natural response is a futile attempt to recapture their youth with expensive purchases or behavior befitting an adolescent teen. For one student, Francisco Velasquez, middle age meant another attempt to fulfill his dream.
Velasquez, whose collegiate career began in 1984, has spent the last 8 semesters at SPC working towards his Bachelor’s degree for Orthotics and Prosthetics. He will now finally be graduating and be one step closer to accomplishing his goal of being a CPO (Certified Prosthesis Orthotist).
Originally, Velasquez attended Columbia University for their Social Sciences program. However, he soon transferred to Seton Hall University due to Seton’s more distinguished Social Sciences Department. After graduation, in 1988, Velasquez worked in Social Services “on and off” for the next twenty years.
Cathy Capek, then an OPS advisor, smoothed Velasquez’s assimilation into academia. Capek advised and helped Velasquez navigate his way through the red tape, registration and the initial process of reentering the world of academics. Due to Capek’s bilingual ability and her understanding of Latino culture, she was able to form a connection with Velasquez, who is Colombian by birth. Capek soon became a close friend and mentor to Velasquez as he trudged through his studies.
Although Velasquez is graduating this semester, his workload will only increase in difficulty and size. Currently, he is in the process of interviewing for residency for Orthotics and Prosthetics. If Velasquez gets the position, he will have a one-year residency for Orthotics, then take three board exams. Velasquez will then have to complete the same process for Prosthetics. It’s one degree, but two separate careers.
The main purpose of an Orthopedist is to support and aid someone who has lost mobility by improving his or her function. Orthopedists also provide braces for legs, backs, elbows, etc. Alternatively, a Prosthetist provides artificial limbs (hands, arms, legs, etc.) to individuals who have suffered some kind of trauma. Velasquez’s calling in life seems to be helping those in need and with his new degree and career, he will be able to better aid those who need the most assistance.
Much like Dara Torres, who set another example with her titanic Olympic comeback in 2008 at the age of 41, Velasquez is proving that age has no meaning other than what we give to it, and he is sending a poignant message that it is never too late to realize one’s dream.