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QCC Public Health Student Educates People on the Merits of Organ Donation

April, 2019
  • QCC Public Health student Jatnna Perez
    QCC Public Health student Jatnna Perez

You can see the excitement in Jatnna Perez’s eyes when she talks about her educational journey. The Quinsigamond Community College healthcare student is poised to graduate in May with an associate degree in public health and ready to take on the future. She said her time at QCC began after a friend suggested she check out the college, when she moved to Worcester from New York. She came to the U.S. seven years ago from the Dominican Republic, and after graduating high school in New York, knew she wanted to continue her education. After researching QCC online and thinking it sounded convenient, affordable, and seemed easy to enroll, she decided to make a visit to the college's main campus to check things out.

“When I first came to QCC I knew right away that I wanted to be a student here.The campus has such a great vibe and feels so welcoming,” she said. “The college has many great programs that are flexible and very affordable compared to other schools.”

She said she initially enrolled in the college’s general studies program. However, one of her professors, Hirul Patel, encouraged her to take something more specific and since she really enjoyed biology and loved being involved in the community, the public health program seemed the perfect fit. A class she took in global public health confirmed that this was the degree program she wanted to pursue.She quickly earned a Public Health Certificate, before continuing on to get her associate degree.

Ms. Perez is currently working full-time as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens in Worcester, and is also in the last couple of weeks of her public health cooperative externship, working with New England Donor Services. She found out about the organization through her Professor Anne Marie Winslow.

“Organs are scarce, so many people die while waiting for a liver transplant. Living liver donation is a hope for many. I shared with several of my students my passion for organ donation,” Ms. Winslow said.

Ms. Perez was immediately interested and Ms. Winslow put her in touch with Jennifer Cray, Volunteer Services Program Manager at New England Donor Services, who quickly found a place for her volunteering at area events. Today, Ms. Perez is a staunch advocate for organ donation, participating in events throughout Worcester, informing people on the merits of tissue and organ donation.

“I try to educate people to get them to sign up and become organ donors,” she said, adding, “QCC has many professors who do more than teach a subject. One of the main things I will take away with me after I graduate is all the encouragement and support I have gotten from my professors here.”

After graduating in May, Ms. Perez hopes to begin working in a public health position that will allow her to “put into practice” what she has learned at QCC, while continuing to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“The best thing about QCC is that it is a school for everyone regardless of their age, income or background. The college has room for everyone who wants to succeed. There is support here to help everyone grow and boost their career paths,” she said.  “This place is very special to me. I’ve learned so many things and grown as a student.”