Former STC student, future Harvard grad pens own success story
Samuel Garcia says STC helped him compete among the nation’s best and brightest
Even as an Ivy League scholar who is earning the respect of his peers at Harvard Law, a published author in his early twenties, and a current contributing writer for Forbes, Samuel Garcia says finding success in college has not always come easy.
Samuel says he looks back on a college career built on hard work but impacted by tragedy as he sought to compete among his peers.
Shortly before starting his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin, Samuel said he endured a hard time when his father passed away. His family, which included his mother Irma and his brother Ricco, were left picking up the pieces and trying to formulate the best plan for college.
Entering South Texas College was the answer, he said. A former dual enrollment student, Samuel says STC enabled him to get ahead of the curve and adjust to college work while still being in a small classroom setting.
Years later and now a best-selling author, political columnist, and soon-to-be graduate from Harvard Law, Samuel credits STC with laying the foundation for his success.
Taking courses as a dual enrollment student saved him thousands. A summer semester's worth of tuition and textbook costs, which were usually included in high school classes for about four or five classes at the time ran anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000, he said.
“Right before I went to undergrad my father passed away and we were pretty short on money,” he said. “Had I not been enrolled as a dual student I would have likely had to take a number of summer classes at UT my sophomore or junior year, which would have probably ran me thousands of dollars alone.”
Dual Credit Programs at South Texas College collaborate with 23 school districts and 78 high schools across the Valley, and are supported by more than 200 college faculty and over 300 dual credit faculty across Hidalgo and Starr Counties. To date, Dual Credit Programs at STC have served over 106,300 dual credit students like Samuel and awarded over 9,800 certificate and/or associate degrees.
“There are actually things that happen strategically when you take classes at STC,” he said. “I could go into things I thought were interesting, and it allowed me to explore my future career as a lawyer. These were all luxuries that were afforded to me because I took classes at STC.”
A native of the Rio Grande Valley, Samuel attended STC from 2011 to 2012 as a dual enrollment student and took summer classes before he attended UT. Within one year at UT, Sammy said he entered the university’s Business Honors Program and then graduated from UT’s McCombs Business School before entering Harvard.
It was at Harvard that Samuel said he found the urge to write as a way to supplement his education there.
“There are actually things that happen strategically when you take classes at STC. I could go into things I thought were interesting, and it allowed me to explore my future career as a lawyer. These were all luxuries that were afforded to me because I took classes at STC.”
He penned a book with his brother Ricco “How a Goat Was Elected Mayor and the Political Spring That Followed” that eventually debuted as a #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Local U.S. Politics and Communication Policy categories and claimed the #1 New Release spot in Local U.S. Politics.
Samuel says the desire to write came from a deep need to express himself while developing his expertise in law school. Despite not coming from a writing background, Samuel says his inspiration amounted to simply finding interesting things and putting them down on paper.
“The reason I started though is because I finally felt like I was writing about something that was worth reading,” he said. “The first book was kind of figuring out ways to fight rural poverty in the Rio Grande Valley and that’s something I cared about. Caring about something is often enough to write something down.
“I have the luxury to write about things I care about so I write about immigration and fighting poverty in the Valley,” he said. “Education is great and you learn about a lot of things but it doesn’t always fit in neatly with what you are interested in as a person so I have been using the writing I have done on the side to supplement my own education and learn more than I ever thought I could at school.”
While attending Harvard, Samuel has written pieces on immigration for the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Austin American Statesman, the Texas Tribune, and Forbes.
His work and involvement on campus earned the admiration of his peers who selected him as Class Marshal, which will enable him to speak at his graduation ceremony representing his entire law school class in May 2019.
Class Marshals represent their class at the Harvard Law School Class Day and University Commencement. They are also responsible for organizing social and graduation related events throughout the year, including Class Day and Barristers’ Ball. Harvard Law School Class Marshals are selected by a vote of their class.
Samuel said his selection as Marshal has enabled him to begin informing people about the Valley and its culture.
“It is such a great honor to be selected,” he said. “I feel like there is a duty to do the things I am doing, and write about the Valley in a way that shows the truth about the region,” he said. “Most people come from areas they might not have to defend, New York for example, but since I come from the border they think I come from an episode of Narcos, which is not true.”
Upon graduation, Samuel says he has already taken a job with Debevoise and Plimpton LLP, an international law firm based in New York ranked as one of the most prestigious in the world.
“I am well aware that I had to compete with these kids who were coming from Houston or Dallas and these massively souped-up high schools, and the whole time they are getting ready for college,” Samuel said. “But by taking dual enrollment from STC, I was able to get ahead of the curve and adjust to college work while still being in small classroom setting.”