A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Conversation with Dr. Martha Garcia: Part One

Alex Ruiz

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SAC Media’s Adam Young had a one-on-one interview with Mt. SAC President Dr. Martha Garcia, discussing Garcia’s childhood in Calexico to her educational journey as a single mother. This episode is part one of this exclusive interview.




ALEX RUIZ: In April 2023, the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees selected the school’s 10th President and first woman of color president in the school’s 78 year history.


MARTHA GARCIA: Dr. Martha Garcia, I am 45 years old. I was born in Calexico, California.


RUIZ: SAC Media editor-in-chief Adam Young got the opportunity to get a one-on-one interview with Dr. Garcia.


ADAM YOUNG: This is my first time hearing about Calexico. How is it like?


GARCIA: It borders with Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and is in t the city it’s in the county of Imperial Imperial County is the most self Eastern county of California and borders with Arizona, Mexico, San Diego County to the west and Riverside County. So Calexico is a community where you experience really bi-national living because of the border people cross every day. Some students crossed to come to school, some people cross to come to work. Agriculture is a big industry in that community. So there are people that do live in Mexico and come to work. seasonal employment during the agriculture season, which is mostly winter. I was raised in the city of Brawley, same county and period but it’s a community where there are not as many people so about 180,000 total, it just feels like small town Living. People know each other, people support each other, people care for each other. And it helped me a lot. As a first generation college student as an immigrant, well, daughter of immigrants, first generation American. It was a community where if it wasn’t for the community, the educational system, I went to public school, the educators I would have I would not be here today.


YOUNG: What was it like growing up in Calexico?


GARCIA: I grew up in what was considered the area of Brawley with the highest crime rate. But I didn’t feel that way. I grew up on a street where most of the parents there were farmworkers. And we were afforded the opportunity my parents were afforded the opportunity to become homeowners through a community nonprofit. And my mother built our home builder home with the neighbors, led by a contractor. Because if it wasn’t for that program, I don’t know that my parents would have ever been able to afford owning the home. It was amazing because there was lots of children my age, and we all grew up together. While the parents were working very hard. And we went to school knew everyone knew each other took care of each other. So it was a great upbringing. It’s also important to share that my parents taught me values that continue to centrally lead me like my decision making today. I heard it but I saw that they always worked really hard. So work ethic is really important. There were times as I was growing up that we struggled financially, but then they both became small business owners, both of them limited English speakers, and limited formal education that they completed in Mexico.


YOUNG: What was your educational journey like going into college?


GARCIA: My father always said that I needed to continue to pursue higher education. He didn’t know how I would get there. But he would always remind me that it was important for me to pursue higher education. I went to Imperial Valley College and that was my only opportunity to pursue higher education. It’s the only community college serving the entire Imperial County I had the high school counselor Mrs. Toto complete two university applications, was accepted to San Diego State and Long Beach State and she called in my mom one day and told her that I should go to the university that I had been accepted. And I remember we went home and that night when we were sitting at the dinner table. My mother was making homemade tortillas, she drops off the tortillas at the table and she tells my dad, the counselors says that our daughter’s should go to the university and my dad very calmly and he’s extremely peaceful said “my daughter will study but she’s going to do it locally”. And I’m grateful to be able to be a president here because I know that this college may be the only opportunity for many of our students as that college was for me. So I went to Imperial Valley College, graduated with an associate’s in social science, went to San Diego State. San Diego State has a campus in Calexico and I completed a bachelor’s in criminal justice administration by age 21. Even though I was already a single mother, I went to pursue my Master’s at National University and was commuting back and forth to San Diego, excuse me to National University in San Diego, and I completed a master’s in educational counseling. And then I completed my doctorate educational doctorate with an emphasis in community college administration at San Diego State main campus. So I commuted again, back and forth for it was 13 months for the excuse me masters, and over two years for the doctorate.


YOUNG: What was it like being a single mother while working towards your degree?


GARCIA: It was hard. It was hard. And that’s why I am very empathetic of our students who are parents, especially if they’re single parents, but the only way I was able to do what I did, and complete a master’s a month after turning 23 was because my parents helped me care for my child. But if you think about if you’re a student, you may be awake all night, because if they’re sick, and then you have to make sure that you do your work your schoolwork during the summer before I gave birth, and then I worked part time after I had completed my Bachelor’s, so was working part time and then driving to school in San Diego two hours and 15 minutes each way. And then caring, caring for my son doing my work. My schoolwork and frankly I wasn’t financially stable. So there was times where I experienced food insecurity. But I had such a drive to want to do better that I had to persevere because there was no other option. I had to do the best I could to be the best mother I could for my son and provide.

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About the Contributors
Alex Ruiz
Alex Ruiz, Multimedia Editor
Alex Ruiz is the Multimedia Editor. He has been invested in journalism and covering stories since enrolling in Mt. SAC in 2021. He likes covering sports and sharing his opinions. He also runs his own newsletter covering the LA Galaxy, The Galactic Tribune. He also has a cool cat.
Adam Young
Adam Young, Editor in Chief
Adam Le Young is the Editor in Chief. He has been pursuing journalism since 2022. Adam likes covering local news as well as being vocal on his various, polarizing opinions. He is interested in Dungeons and Dragons as well as keeping up with politics.   Email: [email protected]

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