STC alumnus experiences full circle moment with educational leadership role
South Texas College alumnus Marcos Garcia, 29, started his path to higher education as an STC Dual Credit student. He’s now representing his hometown as a Mercedes Independent School District school board trustee.
MERCEDES, Texas - When South Texas College alumnus Marcos Garcia attended the college’s annual Superintendent Reception for the Dual Credit Program, he took a moment to reflect on his full circle moment.
Garcia, 29, started his path to higher education as an STC Dual Credit student. Now, he represents his hometown as a newly elected Mercedes Independent School District school board trustee.
As the first Mercedes ISD trustee to have been part of the STC Dual Credit program, Garcia said he intends to use that unique perspective to help the next generation of students find success in college readiness.
“I cannot stress the number of times someone has come up to me and said, ‘I wish I had that program when I was in high school,’” Garcia said. “I think one of the best things about the relationship we have with South Texas College is that we get to put our students in these higher-level courses that allows them to be a step ahead.”
Garcia said he felt inspired at the recent reception for school district partners when he learned about the innovative programs STC has created since he was a student. He was especially encouraged when STC President Ricardo Solis, Ph.D. spoke about the number of nurses the college is producing and how the students are passing their exams on their first try.
“The programs STC offers and everything they do is just incredible,” Garcia said. “Being representatives of Mercedes, we want to be able to provide that type of opportunity for our students. We want them to have access to those career paths, if they don't already.”
STC gave me skills that I still use in my everyday life. Whether it’s thoroughly reading an agenda packet for school board meetings, dealing with timelines in the workplace, being meticulous about document formatting in my writing, or being extremely punctual, all those qualities started at STC.
Garcia was part of the inaugural class of the Mercedes Early College Academy. He graduated from STC in 2012 with an associate degree in English.
“The dual credit program teaches you to be more responsible and hold yourself accountable at a young age,” Garcia said. “STC gave me skills that I still use in my everyday life. Whether it’s thoroughly reading an agenda packet for school board meetings, dealing with timelines in the workplace, being meticulous about document formatting in my writing, or being extremely punctual, all those qualities started at STC.”
Garcia went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Master’s in Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s University’s School of Law and then a Juris Doctor from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2020.
Garcia returned to the Rio Grande Valley and began his profession in the legal field. Garcia said he and his employer shared an interest in community engagement and began strategizing how they could help mobilize the community, especially during election season.
“My boss and I take an active role in democracy and strategize on what we can do to make sure people are coming out to vote,” Garcia said. “We want to make sure that people's voices are being heard. That’s how we engage in our community.”
That experience led him to decide to run for public office. Garcia was elected to the Mercedes ISD Board of Trustees in 2022.
“I decided I could no longer sit back. If I wanted to change something, I needed to get active,” Garcia said. “The people of Mercedes, thankfully, decided to give me the opportunity, and it’s been one of the greatest privileges I’ve had. I cannot thank the people who put me in this job enough for entrusting me with their students, their tax dollars and giving their full trust."
Along with serving on the school board, Garcia is also vice president of the Mercedes Economic Development Corporation board and previously served on the Chamber of Commerce board. He is also an active member of his church’s Knights of Columbus council.
Garcia wants to encourage future dual credit students to feel brave enough to “dream big” and keep their eyes open to the opportunities that are available to them. Garcia is proud to say his education at STC was one of the initial steps that ultimately led him to a strong career path and the role of an elected official in his beloved community.
“You don’t know where dreams will lead you,” Garcia said. “I had a lot of ambition and I believe it’s always good to have extremely high goals. I would tell students to always plan out your goals, but also know that not everything will go according to plan. Wherever your ambition takes you, take on the minor goals first. If you stay focused on that end goal and achieve those small goals in between, you’ll get far. Remain ambitious, don’t cut any corners and always, always, always do good for the people that you're entrusted to take care of.”