McNair Scholar Orozco Learns to Defy Her Self-Doubts

March 29, 2020

Stan State Student Georgina Orozco stands in front of the University Student Center

When she arrived at Stan State as a nervous freshman, Georgina Orozco had no idea what she wanted to study. During her senior year at Downey High School in Modesto, her friends and classmates all seemed to have a plan, or at least a major in mind. 

She only knew she wanted to go to college and toured UC Merced, which her father declared was too far from home. 

“I wanted more space for myself, but I decided to come to Stan State because of the financial aspect — it was the closest and offered the most financial support,” Orozco said. “I almost didn’t apply, but I actually think it’s the best decision I could have made.” 

Her father was forced to leave high school in Mexico before he graduated to work as a baker with his father. He doesn’t understand the American education system, much less universities, Orozco explained. 

Even so, she figured it out with some guidance and is now a junior kinesiology major at Stan State with dreams of becoming a physical therapist. Her career ambition traces back to when she was 4 years old and the family lived in Zamora, Mexico. 

“In Zamora it rains a lot during the summer,” Orozco said. “There was moss on this balcony my dad built. There was a guava tree next to it, and I love guava. My mom asked me one day if I wanted a guava. So, she went up there and she went to pull it and she slipped. Since there was moss on the floor she slipped and fell headfirst.” 

Orozco, who is emotional about the memory, can only guess how far down her mom fell from the second floor of the home, but she said it was a miracle her mom survived. Orozco’s dad used his life savings for surgeries to her neck and clavicle. Doctors inserted metal hardware to keep her spine aligned. 

Over the years, by which time the family had moved to the United States permanently, the metal became infected, was causing great pain and was finally removed. 

“The reason I’ve always been motivated has been because of her,” Orozco said. “I liked the idea of becoming a physical therapist because physical therapy really helped my mom when she was in pain. I thought it was a great thing, helping people with their physical health. It was something that just clicked. I could see myself doing this.  So, I decided to declare kinesiology as my major.” 

There were other science-related fields she might have pursued, but kinesiology, with a minor in psychology, was a perfect fit. 

It hasn’t been easy. Her parents still don’t fully understand the time she’s away from home or the hours she spends in her room studying. 

“Last semester I had to seek help,” Orozco admits. “I found myself in a position where I didn’t think I was going to be successful. For me I’m used to putting in the work and getting the grades. Last semester I would put in the work, study so much and I still wasn’t getting the grades I wanted. That was hard on me.” 

She struggled as she took chemistry and physiology and finally reached out for help, asking questions during faculty office hours and getting tutoring. 

“I also utilized Psychological Counseling Services,” Orozco said “I’ve always suffered with self-doubt. It was good having counselors to talk to because I know my parents won’t understand what I’m going through.” 

She not only successfully got through the difficult semester, but Orozco is now preparing for graduate school as a McNair Scholar. 

“I want to make up for what my parents didn’t have the chance to do, and I want to keep shooting further,” she said. “I try to be positive, and I have faith in God. He wants me to continue with this.”