Jimmy Hozalski had thought about becoming a doctor in the way that kids think about becoming a superhero. To him, it was more a fantasy than a plan.
“I did not know how to navigate a pre-medicine major, and I did not have the confidence in myself that I could get accepted to medical school,” says the Firelands High School graduate.
That changed one day in 2012 at Lorain County Community College when his anatomy and physiology professor, Kathryn Durham, told Hozalski — who had entered college to pursue a nursing degree — that he had the highest grade in the class. She asked why he wasn’t pursuing medical school, and he told her why. But Durham saw beyond all that.
“I just thought he had so much potential,” she says. “I said, ‘Why don’t you think about the University Partnership program and then medical school?’ He was just overwhelmed. He asked if I really thought he could do that. And I did.”
It took an involved professor like Durham to get Hozalski to realize the full breadth of offerings at LCCC and how he could leverage them to turn what before didn’t seem possible into reality. With Durham’s guidance, he changed his academic pursuit to a biology major, enrolling at Bowling Green State University through LCCC’s University Partnership program, where students can choose from 50 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees offered by leading universities.
A cost effective experience and priceless relationship
Hozalski earned his bachelor’s degree in December 2014, then entered medical school at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he graduated in May. He says he entered medical school ahead of the game financially because of the money he saved attending LCCC while living at home in Wakeman.
“I added it up, and my out-of-pocket cost for a bachelor’s degree was just under $10,000,” Hozalski says. “That’s unheard of.”
More than that, for Hozalski, having Durham as a mentor was a priceless experience. The bond between the two was so profound that, for his graduation ceremony, he asked Durham to be the one to place the doctoral hood over his head.
He says it was an obvious choice. Durham was his own superhero, because without her — and the University Partnership — he would not be Dr. Hozalski, embarking upon an emergency medicine residency at Grandview Medical Center in Dayton.
“She’s very special to me,” Hozalski says. “I started at a community college hoping to come out as an RN, and now here I am, a doctor.”