Curtain Closes on Meaningful College Career for Islander Outstanding Graduate

Published: May 04, 2017

Curtain Closes on Meaningful College Career for Islander Outstanding Graduate

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Frank Garcia, Jr. is no stranger to the stage, but on Saturday, May 13, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi theatre major and first-generation college student will take part in the ultimate final show as he walks the stage to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. As he closes the curtain on this recent chapter of his life, the 22-year-old leaves behind a second home and proud legacy at the Island University.

“My self-love has grown because of this University,” said Garcia. “I've been able to understand myself and appreciate the person I am, and not feel like I have to change for anybody. Now that I'm about to graduate, I feel like I could travel the world and feel confident about it.”

Garcia was raised in the small town of Sebastian, Texas, located about two hours south of Corpus Christi. He is one of four children in his family – all boys.

“The small city life is very sheltered,” said Garcia. “Lots of people I know believe you are born, live, and die in that small city.”

Although the only life his family knew was inside the small city of Sebastian, Garcia had different plans. He decided to make the Island University – a place he had visited once during a high school UIL theatre competition – his home away from home for the next four years.

 “My mom told me that after she graduated from high school, she was asked by her parents to stay close to home,” said Garcia. “She said that she could have been something completely different and because of that, she’d never ask her kids to do the same. She always told us to go far and reach far.”

The decision Garcia made to go off to college had a tremendous ripple effect. Soon after he left for Corpus Christi, Garcia’s 19-year-old brother, Carlos, left for Texas A&M University. Now, his youngest brother Joel, at 12-years-old, also has confidence in his dreams on an even larger spectrum because he got to see his older brothers follow their passions.

“The cascade effect has been great,” said Garcia. “Joel now says he is going to start his own rock band or be a pro basketball player, and although these might be child-like aspirations to some, Joel has so much confidence in those dreams and he knows he will get the same support from our parents to do whatever he chooses.”

Meanwhile, Garcia’s oldest brother, 25-year-old John Caleb is proudly serving his country as an Airborne Parachutist at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Garcia’s dedication to success doesn’t stop at the stage. He has put forth tremendous effort in his on-campus jobs and participated in many student organizations and activities. Garcia has acted as student emcee at many key University and presidential-level events. He was named the School of Arts Media and Communication 2016 Outstanding Theatre Student, was nominated for the 2016 Division of Student Engagement and Success Emerging Leader Award, served as Junior Class Agent for the College of Liberal Arts and was Student Foundation Association (SFA) President. SFA works to spread philanthropy and the importance of giving back to the University.

“Frank is a joy to work with,” said Russell Wagner, Director of Engagement at A&M-Corpus Christi and SFA Staff Advisor. “He exudes a special kind of energy and he is excited to take on new tasks. He’s got a full plate of things going on, but he is relaxed and cool as he gets things done. He is young but mature beyond his years.”

During the summer of 2016, Garcia was selected to work for the Missoula Children’s Theatre, based out of Missoula, Montana, where he traveled to eight different cities across the country and taught grade school children to act out full-length musicals in one-week’s time. It was an experience he describes as “one of the most beautiful in his life.”

Garcia has come a long way since the stuffed-animal shows he used to put on for his family as a little boy. Since being at the Island University, he’s had prominent roles in “Rent” and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” along with supporting roles in numerous other university productions.

 “I love theatre so much because it adds color to the world,” said Garcia. “It helps me to be a part of something that gives back to this often gray-scale fast-paced world.”

As he reflects on his time here at the Island University, Garcia attributes his success to the undying support from his parents, family, friends and professors of the theater department who helped shape him into the person he is today.

“When I first came to the Island University, I was timid and shy,” said Garcia. “I didn't have a lot of self-confidence because I was still discovering myself as a person. As the years have gone by and through the support of the faculty and different friends I've made, I've been able to learn how to love myself, and that carries both to the stage and off the stage in my life.”

Because of the work he has done with SFA, Garcia hopes to find job opportunities in fundraising and possibly in children’s theatre.

“The importance of giving back to something is vital,” said Garcia. “It’s a selfless thing. Philanthropy has so many different meanings and I think I would be a great success raising money and giving back to whatever organization I end up working for.”

Garcia says graduation day will be bittersweet because he is leaving his second family behind, though he is excited for the future as well.

“I think this goodbye is going to be harder than the first goodbye I said when leaving home four years ago because I've grown so much here at A&M-Corpus Christi,” said Garcia. “I’m leaving people that I love, but I know it’s not a final goodbye. My fellow graduates and I are off to new adventures but we can always remember we have another place – the Island University – to call home.”