Omar Martinez Gonzalez came to the United States at the age of three from Mexico City, Mexico, and grew up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, graduating from Roger C. Sullivan High School’s Medical & Health Careers Academy in 2009. He enrolled at Wilbur Wright College during the fall 2009 semester because it was close to home and he had heard good things about it. At first, he did not intend to get his associate degree – he wanted to earn some credits to transfer to a four-year university and get his bachelor’s. But he soon got involved with student government and other clubs, and says that he “fell in love with the rigor of the academics and the professors at Wright.” He utilized student resources, especially noting the assistance he received from the Transfer Director, who helped him navigate the transfer process as an undocumented student. After 2 years, he graduated from Wright with high honors in spring 2011.

He continued to take courses at Wright until Dr. Tracy Mitchell of the Chemistry Department encouraged him to think about getting his bachelor’s degree, and he transferred to the Illinois Institute of Technology in the fall of 2012. There, he worked towards a co-terminal B.S./M.S. degree in Biology until the end of fall 2013, when he moved to Washington, D.C. to do a three-month internship in the United States House of Representatives. He ended up staying in Washington for three years, moving on to a political consulting firm where he worked as a federal lobbyist, representing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico during the start of their fiscal crisis, and coordinating a college access program for underserved students through the Latino Student Fund.

Since moving back to Chicago in fall 2016 to finish his master’s degree, he has worked at Northwestern Medicine coordinating the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program, and at a law firm working on immigration cases. He graduated with an M.S. in Biology in spring of 2018, and plans to apply to medical school, hoping to combine all of his experiences to continue influencing government and policy at the state and federal levels for the benefit of his community. He says that his immediate goal is to “help drive humane, comprehensive immigration reform, as I am currently a DACA recipient.”

Omar would tell potential Wright College students that the quality of education there is on-par with that which he received at four-year institutions in Chicago. He received personalized attention, as most of his science courses were relatively small, and he was able to create meaningful relationships with his professors. He also says that going to Wright was far more affordable than starting off at a four-year institution.

“Wilbur Wright College was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I met professors that cared about their subjects and their students, who I continue to have amazing relationships with, and who I respect. The staff at Wilbur Wright, particularly the Advising and Transfer Center, helped elevate me when—as a first generation student—I didn’t know how to reach the next step. Wright College helped me grow so much, not just as a scholar, but as a human being as well.”

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