Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” It’s certainly an integral part of Dr. Jorge Gardyn’s belief system. Education has always played a major role in Gardyn’s life, be it on his path to becoming a physician or in his role as chairman of Nassau Community College’s Board of Trustees, a position he ascended to a year and a half after coming aboard at NCC in 2011. In becoming so entrenched at an institution of higher learning, the Garden City resident realized the school’s ability to offer a quality education at an affordable price was something the Hispanic community should tap into. And as someone who escaped with his family from Cuba when he was 2 years old, Gardyn fully knows the value of a college degree, particularly for people trying to achieve the American dream without being fluent in English.
“My parents instilled in me from the very beginning that education could not be taken away from you, no matter what happens in your life,” he explained. “So, as chairman of the board of trustees at Nassau Community College, I work every day to help Latinos and other new immigrants achieve their educational dreams at NCC at a cost that is within reach.”
To that end, Gardyn is an adamant supporter of LINCC (Language Immersion at Nassau Community College), a noncredit intensive English as a Second Language program that is designed for students who want to attend college, but who need to improve their English skills first. The program has participants focus on academic skills like reading, writing, speaking and listening in order to prepare students for success in the college classroom environment. Students in LINCC study for 20 hours a week, in both the classroom and labs, for a 15-week semester. The goal is for these students to continue on to college studies via a combination of classroom and lab time, where students work intensively on writing, conversation skills, grammar and pronunciation.
Gardyn’s work with LINCC recently saw him honored by the Dejus Center Inc. of Hempstead during a ceremony held at the Coral House, back in June. The Dejus Center is an organization committed to developing and expanding the economic, political and social power of Latinos and Latino immigrant workers by providing advisory services and community education. For Dejus Development Director Yenniffer Martinez, Gardyn is a common ally in helping this population become a part of mainstream American life.
“Dr. Gardyn is the embodiment of the American dream and is a role model to other immigrants who come here to [get] an education, find a job and a better life for their families,” Martinez said. “Most importantly, Dr. Gardyn has not forgotten his early struggles and, as chair of the board of trustees at NCC, he works every day to welcome Latinos and other new arrivals to achieve their educational dreams at Nassau Community College.”
Interestingly enough, when Gardyn met with the center’s executive director and Martinez, LINCC became very real, very quickly when the latter burst into tears as Gardyn was talking about NCC and the program.
“It turns out that [Yenniffer] had come as a young woman from the Dominican Republic, was uneducated and didn’t speak English. She went into the LINCC program and she did very well in it. She was a single mother and worked at nighttime and weekends and went to school depending on what her schedule was,” Gardyn recalled. “She graduated from the LINCC program, went into Nassau Community College and graduated with honors. She got accepted to Cornell University, went to Cornell and now, she’s in the Columbia School of Journalism. She was the story that was the success of the Hispanic immigrant through the system. And here she was, back in the system, giving back to the people that needed her. There is no better story than that. She came full circle.”
As someone who knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was 11, Gardyn graduated from Hofstra University in 1980, went to medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico and after completing his residency, founded Nassau Suffolk Internal Medicine (NSIM), converting it from a family practice that he bought from a retiring physician. He has since transformed it into a modern, state-of-the-art primary care practice located in Amityville, with additional offices in Ronkonkoma and at East Meadow’s Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC). He was also named to the board of directors of the American Heart Association of Long Island based in Plainview, due in part to his founding of Island Occupational Medical Resources. Founded in 1995, it provides medical services for fire and police departments along with EMS and other municipalities. One of Gardyn’s major objectives has been working on a cardiovascular risk assessment program that is trying to help reverse the high number of firefighter deaths caused by heart disease. With so much on his plate, Gardyn is happy and feels privileged to be busy all the time. And it’s not something he’s looking to have change any time soon.
“I love what I do with a passion and I love what I do every day. I find that it is a smorgasbord of experiences and I get to meet so many interesting people and we try to touch lives wherever we can,” he said. “That is a gift that I keep getting and as long as they want to keep giving it to me, I’m going to keep taking advantage.”