Dennis Garcia is a leader at heart who has not let obstacles dampen his passionate spirit for others. After his mother's passing in the fall of his first year of college, changing majors, and a serious knee injury, Garcia could have chosen to take a step back from college but instead used the adversity as a motivator for his future career as a math teacher.
Garcia said, "All of these circumstances have impacted me in a lot of ways, especially my mom passing, but every day I remind myself to keep pushing because it's for my mom, family and future students.."
After changing his major, Garcia followed his recently discovered passion for teaching. He chose to pursue a dual major in math and education through the NevadaTeach program.
"My passion for teaching comes from working with students and seeing them go through challenges, but then figuring it out and understanding the material at the end," Garcia said. "I think every student has the ability to succeed in any subject, especially math, with the right encouragement and support from academic professionals."
As a part of the NevadaTeach program, students get to student teach at local schools to apply and build upon their developing skills. So far, Garcia has taught at Sparks High School, Traner Middle School, Shaw Middle School, Swope Middle School and Doral Academy of Northern Nevada.
Garcia also is a member of the Latino Adversity Organization, and he hopes to "encourage and inspire students to continue their education and work in educational roles, as I am. By being the representative for Latinos in mathematics, I hope to encourage students to pursue STEM as well."
With his role on the Board of the Latino Advisory Organization, Garcia recently attended the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. They received sponsorship support from several entities, including the City of Sparks and its Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board. Here the students heard from nationally prominent speakers and participated in interactive forums on culturally relevant topics and workshops on how to effect change. Garcia hopes to see the board "filled with Latinos, host events to bring awareness to the organization, put on events with panelists to help guide and explain their careers and paths taken to students."
Director of the Latino Research Center and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Jafeth Sanchez, spoke highly of Garcia and the impact he is already having on the College, "Dennis is so passionate about education, and he works really hard to serve as a role model for our youth. He is actively serving as a guest teacher in the Washoe County School District, and we were thrilled that the City of Sparks sponsored his recent trip to the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute to augment his view of ways to be a strong leader and advocate in our communities!"
With the opportunities Garcia has harnessed being a member of the College of Education and Human Development, and with his mother's words guiding him, he will be able to make his dreams a reality.
"One of the things my mom would tell me that has continued to stay with me is 'Dennis pone attencion ponte las pilas, echale ganas para que el dia de mañana este mejor; Dennis, pay attention, try hard so that you will be better than yesterday.'”