"I want to change lives and change the world."
He's bright. He's funny. He's charismatic beyond words. He's Cazenovia College's very own Carlos Garcia, and he took the campus by storm even before he began his first official day as a freshman.
For most students, the transition from high school to college can be daunting. Adjusting to the increased course load, exposure to a new environment, possible distance from home and introduction to a fresh set of unfamiliar faces can seem like a huge mountain to climb. For Garcia, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, whose second language is English and whose family also hails from the Dominican Republic, that height was even more magnified.
In the summer of 2012, Garcia jump started his freshman year by participating in Cazenovia College's First Year Summer College program and immersed himself in Cazenovia's culture for five weeks. He found it to be a trusted guide as he trekked through these uncharted territories. He took developmental courses to prepare him for college-level subjects, earned academic credits prior to his first semester and made lifetime friendships with peers and mentors.
"From the moment my car door opened, everyone was so nice and helpful - from current students to faculty and staff," says Garcia. "The vibe was comforting and I felt like I was already part of the Cazenovia College community." Tutorial services, career and academic counseling, and a variety of social activities were provided to Garcia throughout his late July/early August stay. He also completed a course that was offered exclusively to Summer College students, and he left the program poised and prepared to face his upcoming four year journey.
Garcia, a communication studies major, made a special bond with Sheila Marsh, associate director of HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program), the instant he met her. She was one of the first people to encourage him to participate in the summer learning opportunity and she continues to be a main source of support to him still today. "Carlos is a natural leader, and his peers adore him," says Marsh. "Family is everything to this young man." Marsh noted that Garcia interprets for his mother, and he tutored and helped her prepare for a test to become a United States citizen. He even drove her to Buffalo, New York, so that she could take the exam. "The pride he exuded when she passed was immeasurable," says Marsh.
Over the years, professors have noted Garcia's exceptional academic enthusiasm and they appreciate his eager approach to learning. "It has been a pleasure to watch Carlos grow over the years," says John Livermore, professor of mathematics. "I have learned as much from him as he has from me, and I am excited to see the great things that he will accomplish when he leaves Cazenovia."
During his time at Cazenovia, Garcia has strived to really "experience" every aspect of college life. He added a diverse set of activities to his plate, and his schedule has always been happily packed. He served as president of the Latin Club, sophomore class president and senior representative for the HEOP community. He was co-director of communications for the Student Government Association and is now part of its public relations team. Additionally, Garcia was a member of the crew team, a journalist for the student newspaper, The Quad, a stand-out intern in the Office of Career Services and a hardworking member of the Dining Hall staff.
Garcia is proof that the sky is the limit when it comes to chasing your dreams. He'd love to become "the next Oprah Winfrey" and help people in need. He says, "I want to change lives and change the world." He's quick to also share advice he learned from his mother: "Should you encounter any doubts, believe in yourself and don't give up. Hard work does pay off, so embrace every opportunity that comes your way. "...And, he'd like us all to remember, his own signature words of wisdom..."Whatever you do, always keep it fabulous!"