Westchester Community College
Country of origin: Brazil
When Vitor Granja first moved to this country in 2008 from Brazil, he had no knowledge of English. He attended ESL classes while working as a landscaper during the week and babysitter on the weekends. Today, Vitor is a graduate of Westchester Community College and winner of several awards, including the State University of New York Chancellors Award and the 2013 All-USA Community College Academic Team. He will continue his education this fall at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Culture.
Vitor was accepted into the WCC Honors Program in 2009, took honors classes throughout his time there, and made both the President’s List and the Dean’s List. He held various leadership positions in student government and clubs, including President of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter on campus and Secretary and Elections Committee Chair of the Student Government Association. He served as the regional PTK Vice President of the New York Southern District, overseeing 28 chapters and two regional conferences. Under his leadership, the chapter won several regional awards and its first International Award, which placed the WCC chapter as the most distinguished in NY State and among the top 100 chapters in the nation.
Vitor also helped establish the Brazilian Club and served as the club’s Senator. He received numerous awards and scholarships, including the Key Award, the highest award given on campus; Gavel Award for most Distinguished Senator; Wallach Scholarship; and the Kathryn Davis Scholarship, a highly prestigious scholarship given to students at WCC which covers a full-year’s tuition and includes a community service project. He was also one of four finalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
Vitor cites two particularly important educational opportunities he was able to take advantage of while enrolled at WCC—a summer Baccalaureate Bridge Program at the State University of New York at Binghamton and an educational trip to Geneva, Switzerland. “The Baccalaureate Bridge program consisted of five weeks of scientific research on Forensics Studies. I was supervised by a PhD professor and received support to create my first scientific poster, which I presented at the McNair Conference in Buffalo University. This learning experience showed me how science works outside of a classroom. It encouraged me to further my studies and seek a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. This experience showed me what it takes to accomplish them.”
The special trip to Geneva, Switzerland with WCC Behavioral/Social Sciences Professor Anne D’Orazio and three other WCC students was a “life changing experience,” says Vitor. “While there, I was fortunate to closely understand the roles and goals of humanitarian agencies, especially the International Labor of Organization and World Health Organization. This trip made me realize that my career calling was to become a primary care physican focused on public health management and policy.”