Omar Acosta (’14) has dreamed of being a doctor since he was a child, poring through advanced textbooks that his older brothers had around the house. As he began to narrow down his college choices, NC State moved to the top of the list – despite not having a medical school on campus.
Now, Acosta says, he’s on course to realize his dream – thanks to the university’s unique interdisciplinary approach to education and the overwhelming support offered to Bone Scholars like himself.
In considering colleges, Acosta always anticipated going to NC State, where his older brother, JR, attended. Family members lived close by, and NC State offered Acosta what he saw as an ideal opportunity to begin his quest to become a doctor. But none of it might have been possible without the generosity shown by Dale Bone – a successful agribusinessman and a graduate of NC State’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences – and his wife, Genia, and their desire to provide scholarships and educational support to migrant farm workers and their families.
“I considered UNC-Chapel Hill and a few others, definitely,” Acosta said. “But, [NC] State offered a strong science program and would allow me to go on a few different routes if I needed to.”
While he is currently specializing in integrative physiology and neurobiology, Acosta is not eliminating any options.
“If there were another route I’m most interested in, it would be microbiology,” he said.
Bone Scholars receive up to $5,000 per year for four years, as well as specialized academic and career mentoring during their time at NC State. Acosta joins fellow South Johnston High School graduate Guadalupe Arce-Jimenez and Stephanie Knowles in this year’s Bone Scholars class.
Arce-Jimenez – like Acosta – is a biological sciences major and aims to attend medical school following graduation, while Knowles is studying animal science with ambitions of becoming a veterinarian.
Acosta’s social and engaging personality has helped him quickly find a home on NC State’s campus. He’s a member of the Financial Board for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), a member of Mi Familia, and an Interested Gentlemen of Lambda Theta Phi, the first and largest nationally recognized Greek-letter organization founded as a Latin Fraternity.
Prior to retirement, Bone farmed more than 14,000 acres in Nash County, NC, producing cucumbers, melons, sweet potatoes, other produce and tobacco, while gaining a reputation as a passionate advocate for agribusiness workers among local, state and national policymakers.
Where Bone – a guest lecturer in the Agricultural Leadership Development Program at NC State – once stressed the importance of education to his employees and supported their efforts to become more well-educated, he now reaches out to incoming NC State freshmen from working families like Acosta’s – something this year’s scholarship winners don’t take for granted.
“I’m thankful to be here,” Acosta said. “I know that this is a big opportunity and, hopefully, the beginning of something really great.”