The Associate of Science in Health Sciences provides the students with a solid foundation in the sciences while providing the flexibility needed for them to choose classes based on their future goals.

During their time at Esperanza College students take a series of Biology and Chemistry courses. Students learn about cells, tissues, atoms and molecules to understand larger concepts such as the functioning of the brain or how proteins fold. The program serves as a gateway for students to then continue on to a bachelor’s degree or even an advanced degree in the health field. For example, students may choose to pursue degrees in nursing, radiological science, biomedical science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physician’s assistant, medicine and dentistry among others.

Program Student Learning Goals
  • Establish a foundation of analytical thinking, specific skills, and competencies in the basic sciences needed by professionals in the health care area.
  • Apply the knowledge students have gained to be effective professionals in their desired health science related career.
  • Be equipped for success through educational, social, and spiritual enrichment experiences.

* Higher level Math may be taken based on Accuplacer placement scores
** Based on advisement for health science specialization.


All science classes include hands-on laboratory work. Our state-of-the-art facilities include our Health Design Laboratory, which provides students with the opportunity to learn using technology such as a virtual dissection table, computer design and 3-D printing, patient virtual simulators and virtual reality.

The Esperanza College Minorities in Health Science Symposium and our Health Career Series exposes our students to highly successful health professionals and provides the students with networking opportunities. The program includes a summer research experience. Through wonderful collaborations with well renowned organizations in the area, students are also offered enrichment experiences. Students get to visit local hospitals for tours of the different departments and presentations by health professionals. They can become Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle coaches. They visit a cadaver lab where they can apply what they’ve learned in anatomy class. They can work side by side with residents and medical students at a surgery symposium. They can help as mentors in our science summer camps. Through advising with the program director, students will be led to the opportunities that align with their goals.


The Esperanza College HOSA Chapter is a program health sciences students can join to enhance their learning. Our student led HOSA Chapter has been active in the following ways:

  • Organized a health fair to raise awareness about Type 2 Diabetes in the North Philadelphia Latino community
  • Actively participated in the Champions of Hope: Latinos Preventing Diabetes efforts, including work in a community garden to facilitate healthy eating
  • Fundraising efforts
  • Students attended PENN HOSA State Leadership Conference and won gold and silver medals in 2022 and 2023
  • Students attended HOSA International Leadership Conference in Dallas in 2023 and also won medals

To find out more about HOSA, visit


Nilsa Graciani, Program Director

Nilsa Graciani, Program Director

PhD, Organic Chemistry, Texas A&M University
BS, Concentration in Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras

Dr. Nilsa Graciani joined the team at Esperanza College in July 2011 as an Adjunct Professor. In October 2013 she assumed the position of Director for Middle Level Education, Math and Science, and currently serves as the Director of STEM and Medical Assisting.

Prior to her work at Esperanza, Dr. Graciani held research scientist positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Her research included work with peptides and small molecules in various therapeutic areas including cancer, cardiovascular, inflammation, infectious diseases and women’s health. She has been a speaker at scientific and health conferences.

Professor Graciani lives in Garnet Valley, PA with her husband and three children. She is actively involved at her church. She is on the Advisory Board of the Young Professionals Network at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Fox Chase Cancer Center Community Advisory Board.  She also serves on the Occupational Advisory Board of two local high schools. In 2019 her role expanded to Chief STEM Officer at Esperanza where she identifies and leads opportunities for the youth at Esperanza and the surrounding community.  Her work allows her to impact younger generations by sharing her passion and developing in them a love for becoming professionals in STEM and health related fields.

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Hyacinth Wood

Hyacinth N. Wood

D Ed in Educational Leadership and M Ed in Secondary Biology, Arcadia University
BS and in Zoology and MS in Biology (Molecular Biology and Microbiology), Howard University

Dr. Hyacinth N. Wood has always been an educator. At the end of the academic year, she will celebrate 26 years in the profession and has served in a leadership position for 8 years. She has taught science in every grade from Kindergarten to Undergraduates. Her teaching experience in the state of Pennsylvania falls into three categories: Independent schools, where she spent 11 years, a Charter school, where she is completing her 12th year and College, where she is completing her 11th year teaching Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Human Biology and Math (previously). Her desire to teach in the public arena stemmed from her wanting to equalize the playing field for students of color in the sciences in addition to providing more opportunities for Black and Brown girls in STEM. She believes that education is the key to all success.

Her dissertation for her degree of Doctorate of Education Leadership in conjunction with a supervisory (Principal) certificate was to gain a better understanding of the need of Black teachers in the urban setting and to create the only mentoring and induction program for Black teachers in the United States.

When she is not teaching, Dr. Wood enjoys spending time with her husband of 26 years, her three children, cooking, reading and hiking. She is an avid runner and has completed eight Broad Street runs (10 miles), five half marathons (13.1 miles) and a full marathon (26.2 miles).  In the last year, she has served twice as a panelist on a Facebook Live streamed show hosted internationally by Neuro Advanced Academics.

Courses Taught:

  • HSCI 101 | Foundations of Science
  • BIOL 233/BIOL 233L | Human Physiology and Anatomy I
  • BIOL 234/BIOL 234L | Human Physiology and Anatomy II

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Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia Marcano

MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Universidad Central de Venezuela

Dr. Luis Garcia Marcano is a native of Venezuela.  He completed his medical school studies and his Obstetrics/Gynecological Residency at the “Universidad Central de Venezuela” in Caracas.  Dr. Garcia then moved to the United States where he completed a Breast Cancer Research Internship at Fox Chase Cancer Center.  He currently works for the Abramson Cancer Center Research Unit in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.  He also teaches as an adjunct professor at Esperanza College, where he shares his passion for medicine and research with his students.

Courses Taught:

  • BIOL 216/BIOL 216L | Microbiology

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