If Richard Carmona were a student today, would Pima College accept him? (video)


by Pamela Powers Hannley

US Senate Candidate and former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona makes no bones about his life on the streets of Harlem as the son of Puerto Rican immigrants.

A self-described "street kid" who dropped out of high school, Carmona entered the Marines at 17 during the Vietnam War and got a GED so he could join the Special Forces. At the urging of his military buddies, Carmona applied for college and was rejected by all of them except for one– Bronx Community College. 

Bronx had an open admission program for returning Vietnam vets; no transcripts or SAT scores were necessary for admission. That community college opportunity for a street kid from Harlem gave the US a dedicated civil servant, an even-handed Surgeon General, and perhaps a US Senator

Would Pima Community College have accepted Richard Carmona? Pima had an open admissions program— until they decided to drop it last fall. The new admission rules took effect in March 2012.

How many Richard Carmonas will be denied an education in Arizona because of budget cuts, stricter admission standards, and poor high school preparation? Thousands.   

In the video below, Carmona talks about the opportunity Bronx Community College gave him and his support for the DREAM Act.




  1. The state just passed a budget with no funding for GED. He wouldn’t have been able to take that first step out of his situation….no GED, no Special Forces, no community college, no US Surgeon General. Just another guy in the neighborhood needing just a little help. There are 800,000 in AZ who may be just like him.