Returning to his roots, this Chenango County-born physician says the road he took to get where he is today had a lot of sharp turns, but never letting go of his dreams led him along the way.
Thomas “Mike” Cruz arrived in Norwich in the early 1970s from the Philippines with his family. Settling on King Street, Cruz said he, along with his parents and four sisters, lived in a small three-bedroom house and oftentimes felt the pinch financially. “It wasn’t always easy. Both of my parents worked, but it was hard,” said Cruz. “Many people think being born into an extended family of doctors meant we too were financially well-off, but that wasn’t the case,” he said.
By age 14, Cruz says his life entered the fast lane. His parents got divorced, and he began to skip school, drink, get into trouble and his grades began to plummet. “I went from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. There was a serious problem,” he said. Cruz said although there was a problem, he remembers no one really asked him why.
There was one day in particular that Cruz says he will never forget. He was supposed to leave school early for an outside project. However, the person he was working with called in sick. He decided to go to school anyway. When he arrived, one teacher told him everyone thought he was going to skip but her, because she believed in him.