New York City’s Newest EMT

Omar Campos begins a new chapter in his life

“CDI helped me discover the kind of role model I want to be for my son.”

In his first year at Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School, Omar Campos spent more time hanging out in front of the building than in class. “I came from another high school where no one cared if I was there or not, but CDI staff noticed. My counselor Ms. Gladys took the time to really talk to me. She encouraged me and saw potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself. I got myself together and graduated in 2012.” Omar went on to LaGuardia Community College, but wasn’t sure it was for him. “I had a hard time staying focused in class and I was struggling with the finances. Plus, that was when I became a single parent. I didn’t know what to do next so I went back to CDI and met with some of the career counselors to figure out my options.”

“Omar is like of so many of our students who are unsure of what to do after high school and have to maintain a balance between their life obligations and education,” Hattie Hill, CDI Director of Postsecondary Services at MCNDHS said. “After he left college, he came back to us and we helped to connect him to a restaurant job. He returned, this time looking for advancement. We suggested the CDI Career Academy.”

Omar first tried the Academy’s Medical Assistant program. “I was interested in healthcare but that program wasn’t really for me—I was one of the only guys in the course and I wanted something more exciting,” he said. At the same time though, something inside of him yearned for more. “I didn’t want to be like the guys in my neighborhood who’d been sitting on the same corner for years and I saw how that could happen.” In 2017, it finally clicked for Omar when CDI reached out about a new EMT training program at the Career Academy, created in partnership with Borough of Manhattan Community College and Northwell Health. “When I heard ‘EMT’, I immediately got excited and I knew that was my second chance.”

Omar spent the first half of 2018 in rigorous training. “The ambulance rotations were intense!” At the same time he was balancing work and raising his son, now five.

“Having the individualized support of both his counselors and instructors was hugely important,” Sandra Morales, Director at the CDI Career Academy said. “Our counselors helped him manage his life issues, and the BMCC and Northwell teachers were male leaders who motivated and mentored him.” Frank Nuqui, one of Omar’s EMT instructors at BMCC, was at the testing center on the day of Omar’s state exam and didn’t leave until every member of the cohort finished.

Omar says that having that kind of support from every corner was key to him completing the program. His hard work paid off. He passed his state exam and became a certified EMT. Omar began his new job with Northwell in September. “CDI helped me discover the kind of person that I want to be. They never lost sight of me, even when I felt lost myself. They showed me the kind of role model I want to be for my son. I want to be there for him and be that support like CDI was for me.”