SAC Student Wins Full Scholarship to Yale

June 24, 2021

Office of Marketing & Strategic Communications

Allis Ozornia had big plans after graduating from SAC with an associate of science from the biology: pre-professional program.

Aiming for a doctorate in physical therapy, she applied for a transfer to several prestigious universities to continue her education. After receiving rejection letters from Trinity University in San Antonio and Wellesley College in Massachusetts, she wasn’t optimistic when she saw an email from Yale in her inbox.

Allis Ozornia Yale.jpgWhen she clicked it open, a video showed a barking bulldog – the Yale mascot. It took her a moment to look past the video and read the first sentence of the accompanying letter that read “Congratulations!”

“As soon as I saw that, I started crying,” Ozornia said. “All of the years that it took to work toward that moment just flashed before my eyes.”

Ozornia was accepted into the Eli Whitney Nontraditional Students Program and will receive a full scholarship, along with a housing stipend, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the history of science, medicine and public health. She will enter Yale as a sophomore this fall as she turns 37.

Ozornia’s journey to Yale followed a winding path. Coming from a working-class family, college didn’t seem like an option when she graduated from high school in Laredo in 2003. She trained to be a massage therapist and an aesthetician, eventually becoming a doula, family advocate and a community health worker. 

When she enrolled at SAC in 2017 after a 14-year gap in her education, she knew she would have to work hard to meet the requirements needed to transfer to a four-year university. She began with remedial math courses and worked her way up to advanced classes, with ongoing help from the tutors at the SAC Math Lab.

“I always thought I was bad at math,” she said. “I realized if I could start at elementary math and finish out strong with an A in calculus, I could go big and apply to Wellesley and Yale. The tutors at the Math Lab changed my life.”

Ozornia also credits the SAC Honors Academy with providing the challenge and collaborative environment that helped her stay motivated to succeed, along with professors who inspired her to aim high.

“I hope that getting this story out there will help other people feel like they can do it too,” she said.