For Sasha Garcia ’19, M.S. ’20, it was never a question of what she was going to be when she grew up. From the moment she stepped foot into her kindergarten classroom Garcia knew she was destined to be a teacher.
“I’ve always looked up to my teachers,” said Garcia “I see the influence they’ve had on my life and I want to be able to do that for the next generation.”
When others questioned her ambitions, or commented that other professions had higher salaries, Garcia wasn’t deterred. During high school, Garcia worked at Bank Street College Family Center to gain teaching experience. While she wasn’t able to keep that schedule during college, she has kept in contact with many of the parents of her former students and still babysits them just to keep the connection.
“Teaching is what makes me happy. I like how children think and their imaginations. Sometimes a child I will work with will say something and I’ll be surprised I never thought of it that way. Seeing their perspectives and how they see the world is inspiring,” said Garcia.
Garcia is currently in the School of Education’s Five-Year B.S./M.S. Education Program, but she doesn’t plan to stop there.
“I want to get a second master’s in special education and also pursue a certification in early childhood education, and then go on to my Ed.D,” said Garcia.
Not many people casually mention pursuing a doctoral degree, but Garcia isn’t daunted by the prospect of hard work. In addition to the six courses she’s taking this semester, Garcia also works three jobs and runs three clubs (two of which she founded) at the Manhattan Campus. Garcia is currently president of the Association of Latin American Students and vice president and publicist of Women’s United and vice president of Sexual Identity Acceptance.
“It’s all about being organized and having a plan,” Garcia says simply describing how she’s able to manage it all. “I do my assignments when they’re assigned and don’t procrastinate, I also take advantage of the B and C terms so I can balance out what days I have classes.”
The flexibility to take classes in different terms, and on different campuses, is part of what drew Garcia to Mercy College.
“I’ve known I wanted to come to Mercy since I was in seventh grade,” said Garcia. “I toured Mercy with my College Bound adviser Gina Jones at Liberty Leads and I loved all the offerings, but that Mercy also felt like a small school. There’s so much one-on-one support, and when I saw there was a Five-Year B.S./M.S Program I was sold.”
Garcia’s adviser cautioned she had only visited one college and might change her mind, but when she visited Mercy’s Dobbs Ferry, Bronx and Manhattan Campuses years later as a high school junior she still hadn’t changed her mind and was determined to begin her freshman year at the Manhattan Campus.
Since starting Mercy College Garcia has flourished. Whether its participating in clubs, or working with the College’s Department of Student Life in the Diversity and Inclusion position, Garcia is an active part of the College community. Community involvement is something that was always emphasized in her family. Garcia’s parents are from the Dominican Republic and her family tries to return often to help where they can.
“My uncle opened up a school in the Dominican Republic. It started as my great grandmother’s house, but he turned it into a school for low income children,” said Garcia. “Whenever we go back we always bring a box full of toys, clothes, shoes, food, anything they need. My family and I also try to save money to pay for a child’s tuition at the school. Bringing the community together and giving the kids backpacks and pencils they can have for school is a great thing.”
On the most recent trip to visit the school they threw a pizza party for the kids and community. Garcia plans to teach there for at least a year after she graduates. Eventually, she plans on opening her own school which is why she wants her Doctorate of Education.
“I was always supported, and I was really fortunate to have people emphasizing how important academics were. I see in my family how proud my parents or grandmother are when my sister or I get an A and I want to set an example for the next generation,” said Garcia.
From a young age, whether it was her parents, teachers or local community, academics and community spirit have always been fostered in Garcia’s life. Garcia brought that passion and determination to Mercy College where she has jumped into the College’s student life and is always looking for a new way to get involved and do more.
Garcia’s passion for making the most out of life and striving for more is because she recognizes how precious life is doesn’t take anything for granted. Garcia’s mother is a Hodgkins cancer survivor, and her father suffered vision loss from neuromyelitis optica.
“It hit me that things can change in the blink of an eye,” said Garcia. “Having a mother with determination strives me to be a better woman every day. My mom took on second job when my dad lost his vision and even works from home to help my grandmother who has colitis. She shows us that no matter what struggle you have been through it is possible to strive for more,” said Garcia.
Garcia’s father is pushing through his disease and his perseverance in his treatments inspires Garcia. “He never stops striving and working for his children. All these struggles my family has been through push me to work hard to be there for them. Being at Mercy College is what makes me thrive and strive for more.”