Ana Garcia took a long pause before she spoke to more than 500 students during a UC Davis event in the gym of Galt High School.
“I’m taking this moment in … and I’m looking at my nephew,” said the UC Davis graduate and employee. “It feels so good to be home.”
Garcia helps motivate and prepare middle and high school students for higher education as assistant regional director of the Early Academic Outreach Program, or EAOP, but returning to her high school alma mater was personal.
The academic preparation program at UC Davis organized the Nov. 8 event as part of Achieve UC, a systemwide effort to encourage students in communities with low rates of college attendance to get a high-quality college education.
“Sí se puede,” said Garcia, using the Spanish-language slogan of determination that means "Yes, we can."
Garcia told the Galt High Warriors that she had been just that, a warrior, all her life. Born in Mexico, she was one of 12 siblings whose parents did not graduate from college. And as an immigrant, she learned English as a second language. Garcia, who graduated from the high school in 2001, was first denied admittance to UC Davis, “her dream school.” With perseverance and three letters of recommendation, she finally got accepted.
Although struggles surrounding a family illness and her decision to openly identify as a lesbian contributed to poor grades and academic dismissal from UC Davis, Garcia eventually returned to graduate with a double major in Spanish and Chicana/o studies in 2012. She went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from California State University, Sacramento.
Garcia urged her fellow Warriors to use the help offered by their teachers and counselors and to support each other to achieve their dreams. “Help each other reach your goals,” she said.
Garcia and Walter Robinson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at UC Davis, also did live interviews with the television program Good Day Sacramento, which covered the event. The morning’s activities included the assembly, classroom presentations about higher education, a college information fair and a lunch for senior students.