A few years ago, Rocio Martinez Villa had never heard of rehabilitation therapy – now, it’s her passion and future career.

Rocio graduated from Lane Tech High School in 2008, then started working in restaurants. In 2012, she started taking a class at a time at Wright College – she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to study and was paying out of pocket, so City Colleges was the perfect choice. When she had her daughter in 2015, she took a quick pause on classes, then started again at Malcolm X College, the Center of Excellence in Healthcare Education.

While at Malcolm X College, faculty and classmates helped open her eyes to all the possibilities in the healthcare field. In the spring of 2019 she walked into an information session given by the nursing program where she asked about physical therapy. After doing more research on her own, she registered for the biology class that is part of the requirement for the Physical Therapist Assistant program. That is when she realized that she enjoys anatomy and finds that the human body is “unbelievable.” She felt like everything was finally aligning for her to work toward a career in physical or occupational therapy.

“It’s been a long process, but everything has led up to this point,” said Rocio, who is leaving MXC this spring as a certified personal trainer thanks to MXC’s Project MPACT. She is grateful to Lizz Gardner and Rob Leteste from Project MPACT, who were always there to guide her.

While at Malcolm X, Rocio also took advantage of the Transfer Center, and is especially grateful for Transfer Director Natalia Zuniga, saying “I’ve never received so much one-on-one help from anyone. Natalia is amazing and really cares about her students.”

Now she is on her way to continue her studies at North Park University with multiple academic scholarships, including the DreamUS Scholarship. She plans to study occupational or physical therapy and would like to work with the elderly when she completes her education.

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