Felicia Garcia smiling posing for a photo at Shannon Hospital

Angelo State is helping Felicia Garcia fulfill her calling to help others.

A San Angelo native, Felicia’s Angelo State journey didn’t begin immediately after high school.

She instead went to cosmetology school to become a hairstylist, and that’s where she first discovered her appreciation for making personal connections.

“I love having relationships with people,” she said. “Being a hairstylist, I have that one-on-one experience with clients.”

Those types of experiences would spark her interest in social work.

Felicia Garcia flipping through her binder

“I really like that aspect of working with people, so getting this background in social work, I’m able to say ‘here are some resources to help better yourself or your situation,’” Felicia said. “It ties both of my worlds together.”

“When I realized I wanted to go back to school, I went to Howard College to start on the track to transfer to ASU,” she continued. “I always planned on coming to ASU, it just took a while to get here.”

“I love helping people. I know it’s such a general statement, but I see someone in need and think ‘how can I help them?’”

However, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for Felicia after she joined the Ram Family in 2020.

“Coming from Howard was a very rough transition, and if it wasn’t for (ASU faculty) Ingrid Russo and Dr. Joel Carr I would’ve dropped out,” she said. “Ms. Russo encouraged me and said, ‘It’s hard for a little bit, but once you push through it you’ll look back and think it was worth the effort. When I was struggling in a class, Dr. Carr would take time and meet with me to explain the areas where I was struggling. It made a world of difference.”

“The social work professors are amazing and will do anything for their students,” she added.

Felicia Garcia working with a colleague at her desk at Shannon Hospital

That support from her professors has encouraged Felicia to get even more involved on campus. She is now president of the Student Social Work Association, and she jumped at the chance this summer to study abroad.

Over the month-long trip, Felicia and other social work students and faculty spent time in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany and Romania, and it was in Bucharest, Romania, where she had a life-changing experience.

Felicia Garcia posing for a photo with friends in a Ukrainian refugee camp

“We thought we were meeting with the Romanian relief foundation for the after-school program they have,” she said, “but when we showed up, it was actually a Ukrainian refugee camp. We got to interact with the children by flying kites and taking pictures with them. We didn’t speak the same language, but we had so much fun.”

“Being that close yet still not being able to do anything about the situation is very frustrating because there is not a whole lot you can do other than show kindness to the people who are going through the experience,” she added. “It opened my eyes to how isolated we are in the United States.”

Children flying kites on a playground

Set to graduate in May 2023, Felicia plans to continue her education at ASU in the Master of Social Work degree program and possibly even into the new Doctor of Social Work program.

“It’s amazing how they designed the D.S.W. program,” Felicia said. “This is a clear path from B.S.W. to M.S.W. to D.S.W. It opens the door for other students to come here, and it’s a one-stop shop.”

“I plan to get my license and do clinical work,” she added. “All in all, I want to work one on one with victims.”

Felicia Garcia working with a woman at Shannon Hospital

Not waiting until she walks across the stage, Felicia is already making an impact in the lives of people around her.

“I love helping people,” Felica said. “I know it’s such a general statement, but I see someone in need and think ‘how can I help them?’ When I was in need, I had someone to help me.”

“When you’re struggling, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she continued. “It makes it an easier path when someone is there to help guide you. Sometimes that bridge helps you become better in life.”

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