Jose Garcia – Baldwin Park, California
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
It was Jose Garcia’s father who convinced him to go to Carnegie Mellon. The school was the furthest away from his home in Baldwin Park, California — but that, his father said, was the point.
“He said, You’ve lived your whole life in California. You can go to Pennsylvania, experience something different, something new,” says Garcia.
Pennsylvania wasn’t even in Garcia’s consideration set, as he thought about college while at Sierra Vista High School. He would be the first in his family to go, and he originally planned to stay local — not just in California, but even close to Los Angeles proper.
“In my high school, I didn’t know much about the college application process,” says Garcia, who learned about the Bovard Scholars program from his band director, an alumnus of the University of Southern California. “I was planning to wing it and go in blind. [The Bovard Scholars program] really lit everything up for me, especially with financial aid and The Common Application.”
It was the Bovard Scholars program, too, that helped Garcia hone in on his major — mechanical engineering (as opposed to his other interest, music). When the scholars went for industry visits, as part of their three-week summer program, he visited the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in nearby Pasadena. “I got to speak with the engineer there,” Garcia says. “They seemed to really enjoy their job, and I really clicked with that. That’s when I knew.”
When it came time for Garcia to move to Pittsburgh, his father came with him. The longest Garcia had ever been away from his family was the three weeks he spent at the Bovard Scholars program, and now he was moving 2,400 miles away. There was the neo-Gothic architecture. The changing seasons. A world away from Southern California. “It’s definitely different,” says Garcia. “But it helps me feel like, Hey, I’m in college. It gives me that college feel.
To future scholars: “Don’t be afraid to expand your choices.”