Former Erin Tierney Kramp Scholar
El Centro College Nursing Graduate
In the thousands of miles that Julius Ejiofor has come since leaving his native Cameroon, one 10-mile trek stands out. That’s the distance he walked every day to school in the underdeveloped central African nation, where he first decided to become a doctor. “I did well in science, and became interested in becoming a doctor at an early age,” says the 26-year-old. “Our town didn’t have a hospital. People who were sick had to travel a half-day to get to one.”
In 2003, he emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17 and began classes at El Centro College. When his father died the next year, he had to go to work to meet expenses, but it was hard supporting himself and paying tuition. Then he received an Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship, created in 1998 in honor of the late venture capitalist whose heroic battle with breast cancer became a staple for this award.
The Kramp Scholarship
Julius Ejiofor and Michael Brown
Erin’s friend and DCCCD Foundation board member, Michael Brown, formed this scholarship to honor her legacy and to recognize those students who have exhibited courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.
“Erin wanted to recognize and encourage those individuals like Julius who have faced personal struggles to pursue higher education which without this type of financial help and mentorship would have not been possible,” says Brown, president of the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation. “The DCCCD was the perfect place to realize that vision and has been a great partner to the ETK Encouragement Foundation since its initial formation.”
“It sounds like a cliché, but receiving that scholarship was a life-changing moment for me,” says Julius. “And it wasn’t just about the money; there were programs for developing all kinds of life skills. It was just so great to have the support.”
In addition to his regular course load as a biochemistry major at El Centro, he took vocational nursing courses, passed the boards and became a licensed vocational nurse at the age of 19.
On the Road to Harvard
After graduating from El Centro, Julius transferred to Southern Methodist University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Julius next enrolled at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he excelled in his studies and graduated near the top of his class.
DCCCD Foundation board member Ruben Esquivel ensured Julius’ success at UT Southwestern by helping him receive scholarship money and special stipends to allow him to continue his studies there. He also was responsible for getting UT Southwestern to pay for Julius medical licensing exam.
Just recently, Julius was accepted into the surgical residency program at the prestigious Brigham & Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston. The PMC Esping Foundation, created by Dallas' Bill and Heather Esping for underserved and low-income students, has provided him scholarship grants totaling $55,000 over the past 6 years. The Esping Foundation is also a major contributor of the DCCCD Foundation’s Rising Star scholarship program.
"As each year progressed, we found ourselves more and more impressed with this young man, with his goals, his potential for success, his plans for the future and commitment to giving back to the community," says Heather Esping." "We feel privileged to know Julius and to have been a part of his tremendous success."
It All Began Here
Julius’ part-time work as an LVN, along with the scholarships grants from the PMC Esping Foundation, allowed him to complete his undergraduate studies without student loans, for which he is not eligible as a foreign student. But he also sees his community college beginnings as the start of this incredible educational and career journey.
“Without the DCCCD Foundation, there is no question I would not have made it this far,” says Julius, who plans to study general surgery during his 5 to 7 year residency and seek a fellowship in either cardiac or vascular surgery.
Thanks to the generous support and involvement of our donors and community partners, Julius is living his dream. You, too, can transform lives by supporting our student scholarships. Donate today.
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“Without the DCCCD Foundation, there is no question I would not have made it this far.”
- JULIUS EJIOFOR