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Coffee Beans and Books

Student of the Week: Celina Garcia


Barista turned manager finds growth with popular local coffee shop 

For student-parent and barista Celina Garcia, her time with the growing coffee shop in the Rio Grande Valley, Reserva Coffee Roasters has led her to what she likes best – people.  

Before attending South Texas College for her Business Administration associate degree, Garcia worked several hostess jobs throughout her time in Austin having titles like server, bartender, bouncer, and wine rep. 

Before that, Garcia was set on applying to school with STC upon her high school graduation in 2006 but didn’t qualify for financial aid.  

“I was nineteen and because I wasn’t able to afford school and my parents couldn’t help me, I just decided to work instead and move to Austin,” said Garcia. 

After her run in the service industry, Garcia moved back to the Valley in 2015 seeking direction. 

“I was pretty lost in what I wanted and needed to do, and my mother said if you’re going to be living with me, you need to go to school,” she shares. 

She agreed with her mother and in 2016 attended South Texas College and began her barista years with Reserva. 

“Again, I didn’t qualify for financial aid, so I had to pay out of pocket for two semesters and ended up getting my job at Reserva and decided to focus on that to see where it took me,” Garcia said. 

Celina Garcia, General Manager of Reserva Coffee Roaster
"Finally, I’m able to give school everything I’ve wanted for a very long time."
Celina Garcia, General Manager of Reserva Coffee Roaster

In 2018, Garcia finally had her son and qualified for her federal Pell Grant.  

“And that was the greatest feeling on the face of the planet, I was like ‘Finally I’m able to give school everything I’ve wanted for a very long time.’” Garcia said.  

She credits the college as her “grounder” saying it is important to go to school.  

“STC was able to let that happen for me, and I really like that,” she said.  

And as the coffee shop company continues to grow, now marking its third location on Dove Avenue and 10th Street in McAllen, TX, Garcia hopes to own its original location on Ware Road where she currently works.  

“I was able to move up from barista to senior barista to floor manager to general manager, and a lot of the responsibilities that I would be permitted, followed along with my business administration degree and project management,” she said.  

Garcia plans to continue working with the coffee shop as an operating partner and owner saying she enjoys the service industry.  

“I really enjoy that scene and the people where coffee is actually a really fun thing to serve,” she said. 

She will continue her education in earning a bachelor's degree and wants her son to know that everything she does is for him who played an integral part in her return back to school.