Marco Moreno

Marco Moreno, Oakton Alum '21
As the first in his family to go to college, Marco Moreno has paved a path for himself and for those who follow in his footsteps. He is a graduate of Oakton College’s Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, and is soon graduating with a B.A. in Exercise Science from Concordia University, St. Paul. Next fall 2024, Marco will begin a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine at National University. When he started his journey in higher education, this was not a field that he originally considered. Through new experiences, incredible self-discipline and the ability to connect with others, Marco discovered this calling to serve and heal others.

First-generation college student experience
Since nobody went to college, not just in my immediate family, but my extended family as well, I felt like I didn’t really have that ‘oh my mom is a doctor’ or ‘my dad is an engineer’ to use for inspiration and we never had conversations of “what do you want to study” at the dinner table. To me that made choosing, or even thinking about a career, a little more difficult. I had an unlimited amount of possibilities, but because I had all these options , I was overwhelmed and I thought, “well what do I do?” “What even is there?” Because I really didn’t know about different programs or degree options. I was actually kind of scared going into Oakton. I thought “this is college”. “This is serious”. “I can’t waste time”. I wanted to make sure I was advancing, but going in the direction I wanted.

Finding connection in-and-out of the classroom
Marco navigated the rigorous PTA curriculum, balancing classroom learning and clinicals, with the support of family, classmates, faculty and advisors.

“It was a really good balance between “tough love” and support. One of the professors would always have a diet coke, so whenever you were upset or anything, she’d bring out the coke and say ‘here have this and let’s talk’. And that’s all you needed sometimes. It was the good pressure the program and professors provided that I like to think helped me build character and discipline. These two were developed during my time in the program and transitioned into other aspects of my life including work and personal development.”

Believing and seeing himself in higher education and the medical field
After his PTA clinicals, Marco was offered a position with the chiropractic office where he applied his medical knowledge and will take the next steps in his education and career.

“When I experienced the healing effect I had on the patients I was working with, my skill became very real. It felt like I had a superpower. Like ‘woah. I can do this for you. I have the power to help you heal’. And that was super inspiring. Working and continuing on with my higher education was challenging and I was like ‘man this is tough, but it’s worth it’. Part of me also thought ‘there’s people that maybe want to do this but can’t for whatever reason, and I have this opportunity so I need to give it my best’. Working with the different patients, whether it was ambulation or strength training with amputee patients or doing mobility exercises with bed-bound patients always brought me a sense of joy. The patients were always so thankful and appreciative of me. Seeing their smiles and functional improvement fed my passion. And I was like, oh this is good, I like feeling good about making you feel good.”

Becoming an example for future generations
Marco’s little cousins revealed to him their interest in going into PTA or something healthcare related.

“And I was like ‘woah what? really?!’ and I knew I had something to do with that. And then my other little cousin started asking me ‘hey so like what do you need to do to do physical therapy as a career? What schooling do you need?’ So, I talked to him a little bit about classes that he might want to look into to see if the career is for him. He’s currently taking anatomy and medical terminology in his senior year of high school. I got a text from him that said ‘I love it! It’s so hard but it’s so cool!’ I am undoubtedly an inspiration to my cousins, but I don’t think they know that they are a great part of my motivation for succeeding in my soon-to-start Doctor of Chiropractic program.