As someone who likes to travel and move around to new places, one of my favorite things is getting to meet new people and hear their stories. Since moving to Corpus Christi, I’m grateful for all the amazing people I’ve been able to interact with and even become friends with in such a short time frame. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of those people.
Karina F. Garcia is a first generation Mexican American immigrant who is currently a senior at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, majoring in English with a focus in Journalism and Reporting. Originally from Houston, Texas, she went into college wanting to become a teacher but quickly learned that she had a passion for writing as well. One of her professors saw her potential and recommended her to a position at the university newspaper, Island Waves.
“One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had working here at Island Waves was when I had a story in El Paso. They sent me to El Paso to cover the Walmart shooting… It was just so overwhelming because I felt such a connection with the survivors. But that was also the trip where I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to write about’.”
Garcia has been working for the newspaper since 2019 as a ‘Riptide’ anchor and web reporter. Because of her work, she’s earned a TIPA (Texas Intercollegiate Press Association) Award and has conducted seminars at the university based on her research and experience.
She sees herself becoming a full time journalist as well as a professor after completing all of her education. Specifically, she wants to spend some time teaching English as a second language and is even considering opportunities abroad in Spain after finishing her Bachelor’s degree. After that, she wants to get her Masters in Journalism once she’s back and found her footing in Texas.
To most people, this sounds like a lot to take on, and it is, but she credits her grandfather for instilling such values in her. Quote:
“[Grandpa] knew, and he recognized at a very young age that the only way to come up was through education… He really ingrained into me that writing is important, that education is important, and that, really, if you want to become someone, it is through your work.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for her, though. Growing up, she had a lot of financial restrictions that held her back. She says that her goal someday is to eventually make enough money that it’s no longer a problem for her or her family anymore.
Things didn’t get easier after high school, either. Coming from Houston, she had no friends or social sphere in Corpus Christi, so she struggled to find her place in the University until she had a solid group of friends to depend on. Then with the pandemic, she entered lockdown with her family and realized how attempting to please other people in her life was only hurting herself. Ultimately, she decided that she needed to go back to Corpus in order to be her own person and follow her own pursuits.
Then in 2021, at the start of the academic year, someone close to her passed away which left her feeling lost. It became a big problem in her professional and academic life.
“There was a point where I just stopped going to class. Like, I just didn’t go to class. I didn’t care. And… that was hard. But, what did bring me back was my friends.”
She considers her friendships very important to her mental wellbeing and all around collegiate success. When asked about any advice she’d give to young adults entering the “real world,” she recommended 1) going to college or some other form of higher education in order to raise yourself out of your economic circumstances, if you can, and 2) finding a friend group to get you through it. She mentioned how scary college can be when doing it all alone and that the only way she found comfort was in developing friendships. But it’s not that simple because:
“It’s very important to have a social circle, but it’s also very important to remember to keep yourself in check because not everyone is going to make it… I go back to my freshman year of college and there was a big group of us. And, now, there are only two of us here.”
Garcia had a large friend group at one point, but most of them have since left college for various reasons. Life happens and you have to remain determined if you truly intend to make it through college. So she recommends a balance between social life and professional goals. This doesn’t always mean they work against each other. As she said, her friends were part of the reason she got back on track after everything that happened last fall.
She’s still recovering from the loss, given how recent it was, but she says things are feeling a lot more on track this semester. She’s set to graduate this spring and is both excited and terrified for the new adventure. Being twenty-two, it’s hard for her to imagine how quickly she’s already become a full fledged adult with the corresponding responsibilities of being one.
Even though she’ll be sad to leave Island Waves come summer time, Garcia is ready to start the new chapter of her life and is hopeful for the experiences yet to come. She has big dreams of being an English educator and a journalist simultaneously, but given her determination and work ethic, I have faith in her success.
You can find Karina Garcia’s journalistic work online at the Island Waves here: https://islandwavesnews.com/staff_name/karina-garcia/