Alumni Newsletter

Keeping our Alumni informed of Atlantic Cape activities

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.”

Don Crescenzo

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.”