09:28 AM

An advocate for others

Student of the Week: Aliza Garcia

“My major goal is to work for Child Protective Services (CPS) because I want the chance to help reunite families and protect children. That’s what I’m inspired by the most in the field of social work.”

STC Student of the Week Aliza Garcia

South Texas College social work student Aliza Garcia has always found herself using her voice to help encourage and empower others, and as a student at the Mid-Valley campus pursuing an associate degree in Social Work, she says she wants to be able to connect people, especially children, to the services that are available to them.

“My major goal is to work for Child Protective Services (CPS) because I want the chance to help reunite families and protect children,” the 19-year-old said. “That’s what I’m inspired by the most in the field of social work.”

When Garcia graduated high school a couple of years ago, she said she gave a lot of thought about whether to enter the workforce or attend college. But, after seeing the tasks her aunt accomplishes as a social worker, Garcia decided to follow in her footsteps.

“My aunt is a CPS case worker, travels a lot and works with kids, and I also like to travel and work with kids, so I thought, ‘maybe this is something for me,’” Garcia said. “I think I’ve always been called to work and help children. I used to volunteer at church to help the little kids and was also an assistant teacher at church.”

Garcia said she also went through a personal experience as a child that gave her the motivation to help other children in crisis.

“My experience made me wish somebody was there to help me when I was younger,” she said. “So, now, with a college education, I’ll have the opportunity to help other children not go through what I went through. That’s why I’m here.”

Social workers provide support and advocacy to those who have personal and social problems. With an associate degree in Social Work from STC, students will be prepared to work in a variety of public and private social service settings, organizations and agencies that offer counseling services to children and families, victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, pregnant teenagers, and many other special populations.

During the two years Garcia has been at STC, she said she particularly enjoys the calm environment of the Mid-Valley campus and being active in Student Activities.

“Student Activities is very involved with the student population and I’m a people person so I really enjoy it,” she said. “I have also been involved in the Student Leadership Academy, Student Government Association and I play sports occasionally, like flag football, and indoor and outdoor volleyball.”

To Garcia, being involved in campus activities gives her a chance to reach out and empower other people who may be shy or nervous to expand their college experience beyond the classroom.

“The (Student Activities) role, to me, is about being involved with people and engaging with them because if you just come and go to class, you’re limiting your college experience and could get discouraged,” Garcia said. “One has to be willing to reach out for that help and willing to reach out to meet new people. I'm an extrovert, so I try to get other students involved with sports or clubs because I think if you have a rich college experience you will want to encourage others to attend college too.”

But, Garcia said she wasn’t always as extroverted or as confident to approach people as she is today.

“When I started the Student Leadership Academy it helped me step out of my shell because it really helps a person build their character,” Garcia said. “The club itself helps you feel accepted for who you are and what you want to be. Nobody judges you; you’re able to be yourself.”

Garcia said she’s eager to graduate and dreams of one day earning a master’s degree in social work. She said she knows her ambitions are accomplishable because of the foundation she has received at STC.

“I’m currently taking summer classes because I’m ready to finish my degree this year,” Garcia said. “Life is great, but I’m ready to move forward with my education and start a new adventure.”

Garcia said she wants potential students to believe that college is accessible for them, but encourages them to also consider the skills they will need to be successful.

“I would tell future students to just go for it, don’t let yourself think you can’t do it,” Garcia said. “College is a great experience, but one has to be willing to put in the work. College is all about self-discipline and scheduling. I would tell students that if you have self-discipline for yourself, I'm pretty sure you can succeed in anything.”