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Despite life challenges, Detroit Mercy Dental graduate achieves more than his degree

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May 17, 2017

FalconHoracio Falcón was only 7 when he and his family arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela to get the medical care his father needed following an accident. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

“My father was never quite the same after the accident,” Horacio recalled, noting that soon after arriving in the U.S., his father left his mother, leaving her to raise him and his brothers alone in California.

Despite this early setback in his life, Horacio always received the encouragement he needed to make his dreams come true, which became a career in dentistry.

He picked University of Detroit Mercy for its rigorous curriculum and dedication to helping the Detroit community. Horacio wanted to be part of Detroit’s recovery, even if he was concerned by news reports of the City’s demise. Despite his worries, he traveled to the City to pursue his educational dreams.

But his journey through Detroit Mercy wasn’t a smooth one. He had to leave his wife and newborn son in California, requiring significant travel between states his first year in 2012, which became too overwhelming. He took a break and came back in 2013 when his family could join him in Michigan.

“It was very emotional. I felt incomplete not being with them, and I was sad not being there with my son after he was born through those early months. It was very difficult,” said Falcón.

During his studies, he lost close family members to car accidents, including one involving his father and grandmother. As a result, he had to travel back to Venezuela to mourn. Despite his personal hardships and heart ache, Horacio didn’t give up. He endured.

Falcon and Mert AksuHoracio ran and won class president, was one of the founders of the Hispanic Student Dental Association (which helped provide dental services in Spanish-speaking areas of the city, especially in free dental clinics and for children), traveled to other Michigan cities to provide low-income dental services and participated in the university’s mobile dental clinic, helping examine and treat children and teach them dental hygiene (primarily focused on impoverished, single parent families).

"A selfless individual, Horacio has been actively involved in community service and voluntarism throughout his education at Detroit Mercy. He is honest, dedicated, hardworking, focused and patient centered, respected by faculty, staff, peers and most importantly, his patients. He is totally committed to this profession and the ethical standards by which it is to be practiced," said Timothy R. Saunders, DDS, Assistant Dean for Clinic Administration.

“One of the reasons I came to Detroit Mercy is because of where the university is located. Being from a different state, you hear about all the hardships Detroit has gone through and there’s a lot of people who need care. Going through the curriculum and the clinic and getting to help those people, especially those who spoke Spanish like I did, was very rewarding. I felt like I was giving back to the country that had given me so much,” said Falcón.

Now that he has graduated from the program (his wife Christela Ivon Falcón also is an alumnae, earning her degree in Dental Hygiene last year), he has chosen to remain a Michigan resident. He and his family, which welcomed a new baby girl this past January, will continue to live in Grosse Pointe, and he’s planning to begin a career with a Harper Woods dental practice. He hopes to do community service projects one week per year in countries that need support and will continue to speak to Detroit Mercy students to help them through the curriculum.

“Detroit Mercy gave me a chance to fulfill my dreams, and I’m very thankful. Therefore, I’ll be staying in Michigan and the Detroit area. I can’t wait to be part of the alumni group and give back to help others fulfill their dreams the way Detroit Mercy helped me,” he said.

Falcón was recently interviewed by Marie Osborne on News Talk 760AM WJR. Listen to his remarks online. He was also featured by C&G Newspapers, May 17.

— By Gary Lichtman. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.

 

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