This month’s spotlight is on Cristóbal (Chris) Garcia! Chris will be speaking at our 35th Anniversary Celebration at our Community of Champions .. Turning Dreams into Reality Fall Breakfast on September 15th! If you want to tune in, or you’re reading this after the 15th, head to bit.ly/gdtturns35 to watch the entire event, including Chris’ portion!
We are so proud of everything Chris has accomplished, and we are thrilled that we got to connect with him to hear more of his story and have him celebrate our 35th Anniversary with us!
High School Attended: Greeley West High School Class of 2003
- University of Northern Colorado: Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with an Emphasis in Secondary Education, Minor in Spanish, Minor in Mexican American Studies
- Colorado State University: Master of Management Practice in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Higher EducationUniversity of Denver: Executive Leadership Certification – The Latino Leadership Institute
What are you up to now that you’ve earned your degree?
I currently serve as the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at the University of Northern Colorado, where I work to build a stronger network of graduates and community members in support of institutional priorities and student success. I’m also a local community advocate who was selected in the “Community Activist” category of the 2020 issue of the Greeley Tribune’s Best of Greeley, the cohost and producer of the Latino Northern Colorado podcast, which highlights resources and opportunities for the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx-identifying community, and a higher education professional who focuses on nurturing inclusive practices and creating equitable opportunities for the students I have the privilege to serve.
What is one thing you want to accomplish in the next three years?
I was recently selected to serve as the Staff Fellow for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives as part of UNC’s progress toward becoming an HSI. In the next three years, I’d like to help UNC build a campus and community-wide task force that helps us gain the HSI designation, advocate for institutional and statewide policy that serves all students, and scale programming and resources that support the on-time graduation and effective career launch of UNC students.
What aspect of being in the Dream Team has stuck with you?
My sense of service and philanthropy. My advocacy comes from hearing the needs of our community and having the privilege to understand both the gaps that exist in our community and the connections, programs, and resources that can help us serve each other more effectively. Whether supporting student academic success, community engagement, equal access to economic opportunity, or simply the need for bilingual information in resource sharing, my sense of service comes from the understanding that I didn’t get anywhere by myself. Programs like the Greeley Dream Team’s Educational Talent Search program, the Cumbres teacher scholarship at UNC, and UNC’s Center for Human Enrichment, and the networks and mentors like Lydia Nava, Brandon Torres, Elizabeth Dent, and so many others are the reason I felt supported and have been able to raise my voice.
What are your goals for the future, and what goals have you achieved?
When I think about the goals I have achieved, I think about the goals my parents set for me. They always said, “We don’t want you to have to work as hard as we did. We want you to find success and share that with others….” I have to say that I feel pride when I see how far I’ve come. I have the privilege to feel fulfilled in the work I do, I am able to give back and serve my community, I have the freedom to spend time with my family and friends on a regular basis, and I get to travel and explore new places.
Recently, I was selected to receive the Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation through the City of Evans, was named a Notable Minority Leader by BizWest Magazine, and received the Student Impact Award by the Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinos, and I guess those are the professional successes people look to accomplish. But I truly pride in the fact that friends and colleagues call on me to connect them with people and programs and that I have built some pretty amazing friendships and professional relationships that have lasted for decades.
What is one of your best memories of being in the Dream Team?
For me, the people are the most important. Visiting college with high school colleagues, building life-long friendships, and finding mentors I still connect with to this day.
The Greeley Dream Team scholarship interview and selection process were also some of my favorite times. In the interview process, I had the opportunity to better connect with Stephanie Torrez, who has been a mentor of mine since I can remember. The scholarship itself – along with other scholarships and working three jobs during my undergraduate experience – provided my family and me the financial support to pay for college without the need for loans.
What is one piece of advice you would give a Dream Team student who has just graduated high school?
My dad has given me some of the best advice. On a regular basis, and to this day, he will call me up and say, “Remember… Today is the best day of your life.”
For me, this doesn’t mean that every day is going to be a gem, nor that we all don’t have real struggles that we go through; it means that we can give ourselves the space to take a deep breath, find the beauty in simple moments, and take the opportunity to know that we will get through this together.
So, when you are struggling in your job, in your college courses, or with anything in life, I invite you to take a deep breath and say, “Today is the best day of my life.” If anything, it might provide a little perspective, provide a break for wellness, or give you the space to ask for help.