Graduating senior Jonathan Garcia’s life has transformed over the last several years. Through his education and life experiences, he grown into a thoughtful leader and social justice fighter, but he hasn’t always been that way.
The graduating senior admits when he first arrived on campus he was quiet and shy.
“My time at Georgia College has been very eye-opening,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world.”
Through his psychology major he’s learned to better understand people and work with them on multiple levels. By taking part in a study abroad in Italy, he was challenged to step outside his comfort zone “to see how different people experience different things.”
He’s also learned what it takes to be leader from his roles as president and vice president of the Latino Student Association, president of the Residence Student Association and the director of multicultural affairs for Student Government Association (SGA).
“In my SGA role I’m actually working to add discrimination as an honor code violation,” said Garcia, who has pulled together a committee to follow through after he graduates.
For the first-generation college student, his passion for cultural acceptance, social justice and equality for races opened doors for his future in a surprising way.
“I participated in a protest for the rights of ‘DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students—students who were brought to the U.S. at a young age, but are not citizens—at the University of Georgia. These students are denied admission into the top school in the state and in-state tuition, and we peacefully conducting a mock class on campus to protest,” he said.
Garcia says through the experience he met several influential lawyers and social justice professionals that helped him narrow in on his career aspirations.
“I’m looking for a job now as a paralegal or legal assistant, then next year I hope to start law school,” said Garcia. “My ultimate goal is to be an immigration lawyer to help elevate some of the stress on people in that situation.”
He’s grateful for the experiences he’s had at Georgia College and encourage other students to take advantage of all opportunities that come their way.
“If you want to get involved on campus, you just have to do it,” said Garcia. “There are leadership positions available in many student organizations, so you have to make your experience here what you want it to be. Also, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. If you deliberately put yourself in uncomfortable situations, you learn so much about yourself. ”