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Students from Nigeria and Venezuela at Hagerstown Community College compete for All-USA Academic Team | WDVM25 & DCW50


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Three students at Hagerstown Community College are putting the school on the map — they have been selected as finalists for the All-USA Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. Each of them has inspiring pursuits in higher education.

Stephanie Odugu from Lagos, Nigeria said she is grateful to have the opportunity to study medicine here.

“I feel like this is such a good environment for me,” Odugu said. “People have been so welcoming they don’t make me feel like I’m a stranger, you know, that feeling when like you’re foreign and you don’t know people.”

Maria Orozco from Venezuela is passionate about communities having sound dental health and is pursuing a career in dental medicine.

“I still have to study a lot, I still invest a lot of my time and effort on it,” said Orozco. “I breathe and sleep and train in dental hygiene all the time. Right now I’m trying to get people from the community to come into our clinic.”

Assistant Professor Jennifer Szczesniak is faculty advisor to the scholars.

“They have overcome a lot to get to where they are,” Szczesniak said. “They’ve had to travel to the United States and change countries and make that transition and it’s not an easy process.”

Odugu sees her opportunities here in the states as a way to make a difference around the world.

“I feel like we don’t have enough female doctors,” said Odugu. “Where I come from, I don’t know that much female doctors at all. So I want to be part of that growing population of female doctors and I want to be like an inspiration to people like younger people back home like this is actually possible.”

Stephanie and Maria will know this spring if they’ve received a national scholarship. A third community college student, Addison Snyder, is also competing. The Grace Academy graduate is majoring in environmental science and will pursue a career in wildlife conservation.

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