STC alum finds success as a social media influencer
South Texas College alumnus and local influencer Rodrigo Garza continues his rise to success overcoming many financial and personal struggles toward one goal: guide others into becoming the best version of themselves through education.
With a social media following of over 2 million subscribers, South Texas College alumnus and local influencer Rodrigo Garza continues his rise to success overcoming many financial and personal struggles towards one goal: guiding others into becoming the best version of themselves through education.
“I want to make a difference in people’s lives that goes further than social media,” he said. “I enjoy my influencer career because it allows me to make people happy, but what better way to help young minds build a future than becoming a teacher.”
Brought to the United States from Miguel Aleman, Mexico when he was only nine months old, Garza faced various hardships on his journey to obtain a college degree; the 23-year-old was forced to drop out of high school during his junior year, a situation that initiated a chain of events that tested his resilience and determination.
“My father was taken to an immigration detention center in San Antonio so I had to leave classes to travel back and forth,” he said. “That situation opened my eyes on the importance of teachers being there for their students. I want to be a teacher who cares and doesn’t let his students give up.”
When his dad was released, his family moved to New Mexico where he graduated high school, but when he moved back to the Rio Grande Valley seeking a college education, he encountered a tough reality; abandoning his dual credit classes at Jimmy Carter Early College High School had resulted in a drop of his grade-point average (GPA) to 0.9.
“Because my family was going through so much, I forgot to drop my classes which meant a failing grade in six classes,” he explained. “I thought that was the end to my dream of going to college to become a teacher.”
Garza spent the next couple of years jumping from job to job and it was during the COVID-19 lockdown that he started to use social media and built a following.
“I worked at a loan company at the time and lost my job due to the pandemic, that’s when I started to post on TikTok, just for fun, but I fully dedicated myself to it."
I want to be an influence on people and encourage them to prioritize school, that’s why I share my story so they can see that it is possible. If I can do it, anybody can do it; everything can be fixed, just don’t give up and do your best.
In 2021, he got severely ill with COVID-19 which resulted in severe stomach issues that made him lose 65 pounds, debilitating his body and his energy to keep a job.
“I couldn’t eat, so it was a very dark time for my health,” he said. “I already had 100K followers, but I couldn’t keep up with social media. I still needed to work, and I would jump from job to job because I could barely perform in my everyday life.”
After his recovery, Garza’s determination to succeed motivated him to enroll in STC’s Associate of Arts in Teaching program for elementary education in fall of 2021.
“I was already 21 years old and I wanted to do something meaningful with my life so I reached out to STC’s advisors who recommended I enroll again in every class I didn’t complete to raise my GPA enough to qualify for financial aid. I did and passed them all with A’s,” he said proudly.
Fully committed to school and while working full-time at a property management company, Garza raised his GPA to 3.5 and completed the online program within a year.
“I want to be an influence on people and encourage them to prioritize school, that’s why I share my story so they can see that it is possible”, he said. “If I can do it, anybody can do it; everything can be fixed, just don’t give up and do your best.”
That same year, his career as an influencer took off gaining his 2.1 million followers on TikTok, 239K on Facebook and 139K on Instagram.
“I’m a firm believer that God takes us where we need to be; with my platform, not only can I advocate for education, but I can also help make people’s lives better,” he said. “Many people tell me that my videos make them smile when they’re having a bad day and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Today, Garza is exploring a future as an influencer, but has also started to take classes towards a bachelor’s degree in Education and is also considering a master’s degree in marketing.
“For me education is power. I look up to professionals with experience and degrees and I aspire to be like them,” he said. “Right now, I’m working as a real estate agent, but I know it’s not my forever job. I want to continue making a difference. If tomorrow social media is gone, I will be fine because nobody will be able to take my education away from me.”
For more information on STC’s Associate of Arts in Teaching visit southtexascollege.edu/academics/education/ or call 956-587-5282.