Leaving a Legacy at a Young Age

Photo of Natalia Ochoa. When 32-year-old Natalia Ochoa began working at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) back in 2010, she knew she was going to accomplish great things. She had always been driven by her passions and focused on her goals; after all, perseverance and ambition runs in her family. Her father is an engineer and former politician. One sister is an occupational therapist and a captain in the U.S. Army. Her other sister served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, Africa, and is now in medical school. She was raised in a family where hard work and determination were the norm. These same values she now passes on to her 12-year-old son Daniel.

Natalia has been a graphic designer at NSU’s Office of Publications for the past seven years and has worked on numerous university-wide projects, including the Realizing Potential campaign, NSU Research (TRED) and Alumni design materials, and collateral for NSU’s 1964 Society.

She’s also a current undergraduate student at the College of Engineering and Computing with a major in general engineering and minor in computer information systems. Natalia’s career aspiration is biomedical engineering, specifically designing and engineering prosthetics and other inventions that can help enhance people’s quality of life. With all that ahead of her, you would think, like many other millennials, she is content with being a go-getter and an incredible over-achiever with a bright future ahead of her—except there’s more.

What distinguishes Natalia is that she wants to give back. And by giving back, she means leaving a legacy for future generations of students to have some of the same opportunities she has today. So she chose to become a founding member of the 1964 Society and to leave a gift for NSU—the place that changed her life and made her feel at home. Named for the university’s founding year, the 1964 Society connects legacy gift donors and their families with the university to establish a meaningful and lasting relationship.

“For me, it’s really just about helping people. People know what they want to achieve in life but feel there are barriers that stop them from getting there,” she said. “NSU made me feel comfortable as a staff member and a student. I’m a proud Shark. The university has given me so much, so I want to give back.”

Natalia is one of the youngest founding members of NSU’s 1964 Society. By adding NSU as a beneficiary in her life insurance policy, she joins a select group of trustees, university leaders, faculty and staff members, and long-time friends of NSU who are helping the institution meet the challenges of tomorrow by creating a legacy gift today. Natalia would eventually like to become more involved with NSU’s engineering program and help it grow. Her son Daniel is already following in her footsteps, attending advanced classes at Apollo Middle School in Hollywood—which include an intensive STEM program.

As if all this doesn’t keep her busy enough, Natalia still makes time for one of her favorite hobbies—painting and creating artwork for kid’s books. She has been painting since she was 11 years old and this year hopes to showcase 15 pieces of her work at a gallery in Wynwood during the international art fair, Art Basel, in Miami. Natalia’s story demonstrates how NSU inspires students to realize their potential. “This university can help you figure out how to become the person that you aspire to be. Thank you NSU for everything you’ve done for me.”


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