Portland State University alumnus Abel Ahumada Alaniz ’00 will be honored by Portland Community College (PCC) with the 2014 “Diamond Award” for his contributions to the community.
Abel Ahumada Alaniz arrived in the United States in 1985 at the age of 15 to work as a beet and berry picker as a means to make money to send home to his family in Mexico.
While happy to earn money as a migrant worker to help his nine brothers and sisters, Ahumada Alaniz had bigger professional dreams – he wanted to become a dentist.
But first, he needed to learn how to speak and write in English and earn his high school degree.
After obtaining his GED, he enrolled at PCC and earned his associate's degree. From there he moved on to Portland State University for his bachelor's degree, followed by his acceptance at Oregon Health & Science University's School of Dentistry.
Throughout his studies he regularly volunteered and assisted in the community – as a community health educator for the Virginia Garcia Health Center in Cornelius, as a guest speaker at local schools and for youth groups, as an advocate and health educator in migrant camps, and more.
Ahumada Alaniz graduated from OHSU in 2005, and the following year he opened a private practice in Southeast Portland that serves mostly the local Hispanic community.
He allows students to "job shadow" at his office, to give them the chance to see if dentistry may be a profession they want to pursue. It's one of several ways he strives to give others – many who have come from disadvantaged backgrounds, like his own – the chances he was given and also worked toward with determination.
Read the original announcement from PCC here.