Whether at a chess board, wrestling match or the Bacone campus, Eric Strocen knows how to seize an opportunity.
The Philadelphia native is entering his senior year at Bacone College, where he is the student body president. Instead of going back to Philly each summer, Strocen, 21, has stayed in Muskogee, working with the Project Transformation summer day camp at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
Strocen recalled taking all sorts of opportunities to make transformations in his life.
“When I was young, my mother had it set in her head I would not go to school in inner-city Philadelphia school,” he said. “So, when I got to be about 5, we moved to surrounding areas around the city.”
He said his mother was a single parent who worked several odd jobs.
“She always found a way to provide for me and my brothers,” he said. “She recently got her CDL (commercial driver’s) license, and she’s been a school bus driver. Right now, she’s trying to go back to school trying to get an education.”
Strocen started wrestling in high school. His wrestling attracted college invitations — including one from Bacone.
“I had never even heard of Muskogee until I got the letter,” he said. “It was the best thing that ever happened in my life. Everything changed for the better. Opportunities here just flowed: jobs, being able to make a difference.”
Strocen seeks a degree in criminal justice but remains undecided what his post-college job will be.
“I want to put myself in a position to help as many people as I can,” he said.
Meet Eric Strocen
CAREER: Worked three day jobs during school, full-time student.
EDUCATION: Pennwood High School, Landsdowne, Pa., 2011. Currently a senior at Bacone College.
FAMILY: Mother, Stacey Strocen; five brothers, one sister.
CHURCH: Praise Center Family Church.
HOBBIES: Martial arts, wrestling, chess, video games, working out, lifting weights.