Juan Collazo ’15
Faith, sacrifice, perseverance, opportunity and brilliance. These words describe much of Juan Collazo’s journey through life.
Collazo’s parents were told their newborn would not live to see his first birthday. Amniotic Band Syndrome, which occurs when string-like bands in the womb tangle around the fetus, restricting blood flow and affecting development, required multiple surgeries to correct severe deformities in his fingers, eyes and lips – surgeries not readily available in the small Mexican village the Collazo family called home.
Collazo’s parents believed there was another way for their son.
They set out on a journey of faith to the United States, leaving family and home behind. They took their son to Duke Hospital, where he endured 14 surgeries over two decades. They worked in housekeeping and landscaping.
He went to school and distinguished himself as exceptionally intelligent and academically motivated.
When the time came to consider college, the UNCG Guarantee Program provided Collazo with the opportunity to pursue a challenging pre-med curriculum in human biology with a full scholarship and support structure.
Part of that support structure was Collazo’s mentor, Mrs. Christine Waggoner Hudnell ‘69, a retired Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools music teacher, who encouraged him throughout his UNCG journey and into medical school. Positive accountability to his mentor and peers, as well as informative workshops clarifying college processes, provided this first-generation college student with the on-campus support he needed to succeed.
Collazo also received assistance from the Mrs. Charles McIver Scholarship Fund for students in pre-med and the Summerlin Family Scholarship in Biology Endowment.
With a near-perfect undergraduate GPA, Collazo’s brilliance shines through his intellectual curiosity and work ethic, demonstrated by his participation in UNCG undergraduate research projects.
Collazo is the first in his family to have a college degree, and just began his first semester at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Collazo’s humility is reflected in his appreciation of the UNCG Guarantee:
“I have a long six years ahead of me before I can call myself a doctor, but Guarantee and UNCG as a whole will always stand out as the thing that enabled me to even begin this path. I think this scholarship highlights the fact that, when given the right resources, any motivated student can achieve anything they put their mind to. Guarantee has a knack for selecting this type of student and I am thankful they chose me.”
Collazo’s vision for the future? He wants to open health clinics for underserved populations in North Carolina and Mexico.
It seems the one who lived is determined to live for others.
The UNCG Guarantee Scholarship Program, established in 2009 through an anonymous gift, not only offers qualified in-state students the opportunity to attend college with little or no debt, but also integrates support systems that ensure student success. For more information, please visit The UNCG Guarantee.
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Director of Planned Giving