When Lieutenant Orlando Cabrera left Montclair State 10 years ago to join the United States Navy in the middle of two wars, he had no idea where his career would take him. Biology major with a minor in chemistry, Cabrera was in a health careers program, through which he had specific guidance for a career in the biomedical sciences. Today, he serves as a family physician in the Navy and primarily cares for sailors and marines and their families. Since graduating from Montclair State, the Navy has given Cabrera opportunities he would otherwise not have had, such as providing primary care in the Navy’s largest overseas hospital in Okinawa, Japan, and a six-month deployment to Afghanistan with the Marines.
Having experienced life far away from Montclair State, Cabrera continues to find himself crediting his alma mater for allowing him to gain a great deal of independence. A resident for all four years, Cabrera remembers spending three years living in Freeman Hall. It was at Montclair State where he developed lifelong friendships and spent many late nights either studying in the library or fulfilling his responsibilities as the executive vice president of the Student Government Association. Montclair State is also where he met his wife, Julie Betz-Cabrera '05. Because he is currently training to become a naval flight surgeon – the physician for pilots and crew of planes and helicopters – he often thinks back to his most influential class in college.
“Human Physiology was the most impactful class in my career thus far, as I still think back to that class when trying to explain medical issues to patients,” he says.
Since graduating and becoming part of the armed forces, Cabrera says he’s realized just how much Montclair State helped him become resilient when it comes to the challenges of adulthood.
“The biggest surprise was how well Montclair State students adjusted as compared to other students. I am very biased, but I feel that Montclair State really taught me how to be a leader in the 21st Century.”
While Lieutenant Cabrera travels not only campus but the world at large, he continues to live by the lasting impressions he received from Montclair State and spread them throughout his life today.