In the past two years, Mesa Community College graduate Luis Garcia has been schooled in more than just academic knowledge. Due to life events, he has learned to juggle personal and academic struggles and developed a positive approach to life’s challenges.
Garcia grew up in Venezuela, but when the country’s economic and political situation became tumultuous, his parents offered him and his brother a chance to do their schooling in the United States. After enrolling at MCC, his father suffered a stroke and his brother, who attends Arizona State University, was diagnosed with a very serious condition of Leukemia that required aggressive treatments.
Garcia did what he could to help his family while taking a full class load, working 20 hours a week and fulfilling internship duties with the City of Mesa. Since he has no car, Garcia biked to all of his commitments. In May, he will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree in Architecture and transfer to ASU in the fall to continue his architecture studies.
How did he keep up with all the demands?
“It’s like improvising music,” Garcia said. “It’s really hard, but you adapt and do whatever you can for the situation.” He said his family’s health problems really made him examine his priorities.
“You have plans, but life brings things and you just have to deal with them,” Garcia said. “How you handle challenges defines you.” Garcia said his co-workers in the testing center at MCC have been very helpful and supportive and taught him how to manage his time efficiently. He also found support through the MCC International Education office and the Multicultural Office. Even with limited free time, Garcia was able to find the time to travel to California on a trip sponsored by the Multicultural Office.
“We went to the Tolerance Museum,” he said. “It enabled me to see different types of architecture and the history of society. The trip inspired me to look at the world with different eyes.”
Garcia said he’s always been interested in designing and drawing. His internship with the City has offered him the chance to network with others in the architecture industry.
He’s excited to get his degree and has advice for others who find that their life plans have been altered. “No matter what comes up, keep going,” Garcia said. “It’s easy to lose focus, but hard work will pay off once you are done.”