‘I MANAGED TO PUSH THROUGH’
Giselle Garcia has faced various challenges throughout her life. Before starting high school, she moved in with her guardian and was living with her cousins, making a tough transition even more of a challenge.
“It really was hard, but I managed to push through,” she said.
Being the only one in her family to go to college also brought uncharted territory, but she was able to lean on the staff at Righetti to guide her through the process and it paid off in a big way.
In the fall, she will be attending San Jose State to study linguistics.
Giselle told the News-Press her dream school was Cal State Fullerton, but even after getting a rejection letter in the mail it didn’t stop her from pursuing a college education.
She was accepted to Oral Roberts University and Northern Arizona – both private schools – as well as San Jose State. She weighed her options and decided it would be best to stay in California.
“It was really, really hectic,” she recalled, admitting that when it comes to education she was putting herself first. Through the process, however, something changed.
“Something inside me made me think about my family and my older brothers,” said Giselle,17, who graduates with a 3.75 GPA. “I’m really happy that I got into a California school.”
Some of her favorite memories from high school were during her time spent in the Advancement Via Individual Determination program, which helps prepare students to meet the requirements for admission to a four-year college or university. The students in the group are provided with the instruction and support services to help further their education.
Jennifer Sportsman, who runs the program, would encourage Giselle and other students to have confidence in their ability.
Another mentor in the program, Jennifer Matos, was also a linguistics major which piqued Giselle’s interest.
“I saw how she was with the other students, how she interacted with them and I liked the idea of helping others,” she said.
The program gave her new perspective, and helped her begin to put others first.
While it is still unclear what her future will hold, Giselle hopes one day to work as a translator or interpreter. Whether it’s assisting lawyers, working for the government, or some other avenue, she is ready for what comes next.
If things don’t work out, Giselle also expressed interest in teaching some day. Her passion of helping others, whether it is children or adults, should pay dividends in the long run.
She is grateful to share the stage with her fellow graduates today, including some of whom she has created memories and bonds that will last forever.
One memory Giselle recalls fondly was an AVID field trip the group took to San Diego. She was hanging out with four of her friends sharing scary stories in their hotel when all of a sudden a loud knock was heard on the wall. The three girls in the room “screamed their brains out,” she recalled with a laugh.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”