YORK COLLEGE VALEDICTORIAN IN A CLASS BY HERSELF

June 2, 2009 | York College

Gloria Cecilia Velasco is the first Occupational Therapy major at York College to be named valedictorian. Small wonder. She’s always been restless. Even as a young girl growing up in Colombia she felt she was destined for important things. At 12, her family moved to Australia where she remained for 20 years. She got married and had two daughters, but she never lost sight of her dream. “I’ve wanted a college education since I was a teenager,” she recalled.

After 12 years of marriage, seeking a better life and more opportunities, the family moved to Spain. In 1994, a year later, they immigrated to New York City. Not long thereafter the City University of New York (CUNY), with all its possibilities, beckoned. One of her sisters was enrolled at LaGuardia Community College pursuing Nursing and Velasco immediately realized that this was the path to a college education for her as well.

Two years after her arrival in New York City, she enrolled at LaGuardia Community College in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. “Occupational Therapy is a caring career,” she said. “You have to want to help people from the heart.” After receiving her degree in 1999, she worked full time. But in 2005, restless again and determined to pursue her dream, she enrolled as a full-time student in the only CUNY senior college offering a major in Occupational Therapy with a B.S./M.S. degree: York College.

She is now valedictorian of the Class of 2009 and by all accounts, she has been an inspiration to everyone around her. Praise is heaped upon her from all quarters. Easy to smile, she easily brings smiles from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched. Her goal is to work with young children “to give them a better chance in life,” she said. “You must have a dream, persevere and work hard,” said Velasco. She did. “It’s never too late,” she added