His parents know he “has a good head”

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Arnoldo Garcia Transforming LivesArnoldo Garcia remembers his mother’s voice as they walked down the school’s hallway to start second grade. She said, “This is where you start a good school and one day you will have a good career, son.”

His mother was speaking in Spanish. She worked in the fields to support the family. She had few jobs skills and little schooling.

Recently Garcia was recognized in front of his family as a Transforming Lives nominee at Big Bend Community College. His parents learned through an interpreter during the ceremony that their son is a high achiever who has overcome barriers to accomplish great things.

Garcia came to the U.S. when he was six. He was lucky that at such a young age “my mind soaked up my second language English.” His parents were proud of him for learning English within months.  His parents would say “This one sure does have a good head.”

In 8th grade Garcia started thinking about the stigma and limitations associated with his undocumented status. He drifted a little and fell behind in school. He graduated from high school in 2012 and went to work in the fields as expected.

“I had almost accepted a typical life for an undocumented worker, he said. “Then the opportunity to attend Big Bend Community College presented itself with a full scholarship from the College Success Foundation. “

The scholarship gave him a second chance academically, and he took advantage it.

 “My family members are enchanted when they hear all the decisions I make as part of attending college,” he said. “Since I am the first in my family to seek higher education, it is something they didn’t go through.”

Garcia has been a Peer Advocate Coach (PAC) leader for two years in BBCC’s Student Success Center. He has attended a Dreamers’ Conference and had the opportunity to share his experiences as a speaker at several other conferences.

He plans to major in Foreign Language Education at Central Washington University, “but I am keeping my options open. I am currently job shadowing other professions.”

Garcia is described by his mentors at BBCC as humble, gentle, and quiet. But he has learned to be a leader and to take advantage of opportunities to improve his skills and experience new things.

“Part of being a leader is just sharing experiences to help others be successful,” he said.