PSAV, 2013 | A.A., 2015
About eight years ago, Curtis Ober was in a California hospital bed in a medically-induced coma fighting for his life.
“When [doctors] finally brought me out of the coma, they weren’t sure if I was going to have brain damage. I came out virtually unharmed. I was very fortunate,” said Ober, who from that moment developed a desire to work in health care.
The 29-year-old New Jersey native had gone to California to live with his brother and fight his drug addiction, but he relapsed, and an overdose sent him to the hospital. After recovering, he moved to a rehabilitation center in Palm Beach County to try again to get clean. He got kicked out of the facility and stayed in Curry Park in West Palm Beach for a few days before finally going to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. That’s when his life began to change for the better.
Today, Ober is on track toward his goal of becoming a medical doctor, and he says he is thankful for the many individuals who helped him along the way. At a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, he met a kind man who took him under his wing and helped him get into Project Success, a transitional home then operated by Gulfstream Goodwill and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
During his roughly 18 months there, Ober enrolled in the Medical Assisting program at Palm Beach State and got a job. “I was working in a downtown restaurant at night full time and going to school during the day,’’ he said.
He said Dr. Jesus Venereo, an instructor in the program, encouraged him and arranged for him to do his externship at Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, an oncology and hematology practice, in 2013. He was hired permanently, and he has been there ever since. While working full time at the practice, he continued going to Palm Beach State and completed his Associate in Arts degree in 2015. Now, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University and expects to graduate in spring 2018. He plans to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this summer in preparation for medical school.
He said he decided to go to Palm Beach State because he knew he needed a career, not just a job to stay on a solid path. “So many people helped me in getting my life back, and I wanted to help others,’’ he said.
“I knew that I couldn’t continue to work in a restaurant and be successful and continue to stay clean. Going to school helped me to stay clean because I was goal oriented and focused. It gave me something to strive for, something to accomplish and something to have pride in.”