Jose Garcia

Degree/Area of Study

Spanish & Education

Class of Year
Continuing Student
Hours of travel doesn't stop alumnus from pursuing educational goals
Arizona State University

Jose Garcia believes that everything happens for a reason. After he graduated from high school in Gila Bend, Arizona, he planned to attend Arizona State University (ASU) and enroll in their architecture program. As he went to submit his application, there was a blackout that took place, rendering the process undoable. “I am a religious person,” said the Roman Catholic Garcia, “and I think this was God’s way of letting me know that it wasn’t the right time for me.” He ended up at Phoenix College, trying out an architectural drafting course to become introduced to the industry and realized that it wasn’t the course of study for him, at all.

He took the next six months to reflect on life to best figure out the future, and that turned into 18 months, as some of those life questions aren’t so easily answered. “I started working at different restaurants and after a period of time, that became frustrating. I wanted to make more of the honors I received in high school, and people in the community wanted to see that happen, as well,” he continued. “I was in tears daily and I knew it was time to get back into school.”

Transportation was a major issue that Garcia faced. At 10 months old, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, something doctors figured out had been developing since he was in the womb. So, at the point in time he was ready to get back to his path of adult education, driving was still not a part of his life. He discovered bus route that could get him from Gila Bend to the EMCC campus, so in 2008, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a declared major of Spanish. A change from his initial thoughts of architecture, it was a Hollywood movie called "Spanglish" that initially motivated him in that direction. “There’s a scene where someone was interpreting and it made me realize that I wanted to be a simultaneous interpreter and eventually work in the courts. I aspire to be a language instructor.” That trip involved several hours a day on the bus to make this happen. Garcia’s spirit was persistent and in charge.

His travel time was also extensive when he continued his course of study from 2011 to 2013 at ASU. He credits Valley Metro’s transportation system with helping him, as they had the routes that could get him where he needed to go, despite the distances involved. He finished at ASU with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish.

After spending so much time utilizing public transportation, there’s been an exciting change for Garcia. After so many years with his epilepsy seizures at bey, his doctors are allowing him to pursue obtaining a driver’s license. He’s in no hurry, however. “In rural areas, I can drive,” he said. “But I need to continue practicing.” “I still use public transportation while I practice.”

Currently, Garcia is looking for a job in his field and exploring a court interpreter program, as well as the possibility of becoming a language teacher. He has received honors at all of the schools he has attended and credits his time at EMCC as exceptional. “I had a wonderful advisor named Marsha Carlen,” said Garcia. “She was an angel; and especially helpful in getting me started with my CLEP test. All of the EMCC instructors I had were amazing. My criminal justice classes were great and I am just so glad I went there. I really love to learn and for me going to school is neither a bore or a chore. It helps me expand.”

Garcia’s story is inspirational, proving that when there’s a will, there is a way. He persevered years without living near any of the schools he attended, and it was often the same case for many of the places he’s been employed. He kept a positive attitude throughout and it has served him well. He hopes that everyone can take a cue from his style of pursuing life goals, “If you have a goal, a dream, a challenge to overcome, do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Have faith in yourself and never give up.”