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From Hammering to Heart Surgeon
When Don Crescenzo was in the seventh and eighth grades, he thought he wanted to be a doctor. But while attending Hammonton High School, from which he graduated in 1976, he became interested in pursuing a career as a carpenter.
“I changed my educational focus to a technical vocation and did not take any college prep courses,” he said. “I worked as a carpenter until 1979 and was doing well until the prime rate rose above 20 percent and the building industry became depressed. I started thinking about going to college to become a doctor, but I could not get into a four-year school due to my [poor] high school grades.”
His father suggested he attend ACC (now ACCC), which changed his life. “I spent two years as a biology major, which allowed me to get accepted into Loyola College in Baltimore,” he said. “I graduated in 1982 with a double major in biology and computer science. In 1984, I was accepted into Georgetown University School of Medicine and graduated in 1988. My high school guidance counselor is still in a state of shock.”
During the next seven years, Crescenzo trained in general surgery. He spent two of those years in the lab at the Food and Drug Administration/National Institute of Health facility in Bethesda, Md., as a National Academy of Science Fellow. He finished his general surgery instruction in 1995 and spent the next three years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., training to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Crescenzo currently is in practice in Toledo, Ohio, as a cardiothoracic surgeon for the ProMedica Health System—the seventh largest integrated health system in the country. He is part of a three-person team, handling between 200 to 230 open heart cases and 130 lung cases per year. He owes it all to ACCC, which gave him a shot at the brass ring when no other school would.
“I will forever be indebted to ACCC for allowing me to realize my dream.”