For San Angelo native and Angelo State senior Christian Garcia, honoring his family and his heritage have been his motivations throughout his college career.
“I had a mentor once tell me, ‘You’re brought into this world with one last name,” Garcia said. “Make it more valuable when you leave.’”
A double major in accounting and finance, Garcia is taking major strides in doing just that. The grandson of immigrants looking to expand opportunities for their family, he is the winner of ASU’s Presidential Award as the top graduate in the Class of 2017.
“I’m so fortunate to receive that award,” Garcia said. “I hope this recognition will inspire more students from the Concho Valley to attend Angelo State University.”
And the Presidential Award is just the tip of the iceberg. This year alone, Garcia also won a prestigious Dennis Boe Award for undergraduate research at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference and was named a Venture for America (VFA) Fellow by the VFA national entrepreneurship and community enhancement organization. The VFA fellowship stemmed from his 2016 internship at Goldman Sachs in Dallas.
“I was working at Goldman Sachs over the summer,” Garcia said, “and with the help of my team, I became good at the work, but I was not extremely passionate about my job. I felt like I needed something less structured; something that would let me make a direct impact on job creation and community revitalization while providing a platform to one day start a business.”
“They (Goldman Sachs) gave me an opportunity, and for that I will always be grateful,” he added. “It was at Goldman Sachs I found out I wanted to work for Venture for America.”
“I’d definitely say ASU chose me. It didn’t come down to me being stuck with ASU – the university opened doors for many opportunities.”
Currently in the VFA interview process, Garcia is working on being “matched” with the right company for his fellowship. Upon graduating on May 13, he will complete his training with VFA at Brown University in Rhode Island, then begin his two-year commitment to the company he chooses.
“It will be a full-time job,” Garcia said. “It will include the benefits of a full-time job. Hopefully, I will get to dabble in every department that way I can gain as much experience as possible. At the end of the two years, they (VFA) want you to have some type of idea of starting your own business.”
“But these awards are not necessarily about me,” he added. “They are about the people who have helped contribute to my success. Every time I win an award or some type of recognition, I love to bring it back to San Angelo and the university, and most importantly to my family. I think that’s what matters.”
A San Angelo Central High School alum, Garcia was unsure about continuing his education. Through the help of his high school counselor and ASU’s Up & Coming Scholars college preparation program, he found himself applying to ASU less than a month before the application deadline.
“I applied and got in, and was like, ‘Look at that. Now I’m going to college,’” Garcia said. “I only applied to one school. Looking at it today, I’m super grateful ASU had the Up & Coming Scholars program in place, because without that, who knows what I’d be doing?”
“I’ve had quite a bit of success because of those people who impacted my life five years ago.”
In addition to the Up & Coming Scholars program, Garcia contributes his success to the dedication of his professors and to the ASU Honors Program.
“If I didn’t have the Honors Program, I probably wouldn’t have any of this,” he said. “I definitely credit the program for a lot of my success. The curriculum taught in the program helps you approach problems in a different way. You also learn to broaden your mind and to have a different perspective on the way the world and society works.”
Going forward, Garcia plans to complete his VFA fellowship and then hopes to study abroad for a year through a Fulbright or Marshall program before earning his Master of Business Administration degree. His ultimate goal is to start his own business, focusing on investments.
One thing is for sure – he will continue to work hard and take advantage of opportunities, much like he did when he was accepted into ASU four years ago.
“I’d definitely say ASU chose me,” Garcia said. “It didn’t come down to me being stuck with ASU – the university opened doors for many opportunities.”