By Rodolfo Trujillo
James Garcia, Associated Student Union president has answered the call to serve.
Garcia has had a challenging road just to make it to school every day, trying to balance school, while caring for an ailing family member and performing his duties.
After graduating from St. Paul High School, Garcia got into real estate and insurance sales for about four years. It is around this time that his grandfather had a stroke.
Garcia has been close to his grandparents since childhood and when they needed him the most, he was there to care for them.
Garcia moved into his grandparents’ home and, along with his grandmother, cared for his grandfather who had lost use of the left side of his body.
Seeing the occupational therapist that would go out and help his grandfather regain use of what the stroke had taken away began stirring ideas in Garcia’s mind of what skill it took to do such a job.
A second stroke that caused his grandfather to lose some mental and motor skills made recovery tougher and required dedication from Garcia.
Then his grandmother had knee surgery and needed rehabilitation.
Garcia’s grandparents did not qualify for a home health care worker from the state.
He had to become their primary caregiver for five years.
It was during that time, seeing his grandparent’s improvement with therapy, that Garcia decided on being an occupational therapist. He enrolled into ELAC for the Fall 2009 semester.
He is double-majoring in sociology and occupational therapy.
Although his main goal is to be an occupational therapist, Garcia would eventually like to be a sociology instructor at the community college level.
So how does this fit into ASU?
“My first semester, I had no idea about student government. A friend introduced me to ASU. I ran for chief justice for the 2010-11 (academic) year,” Garcia said.
He won and soon saw how complicated government and politics can be.
In a year that saw tension within the ASU executive board, Garcia decided to run again for chief justice.
The ASU election, which saw the original winner of the presidency disqualified and the runner-up decline the position, left the remaining board of three to decide on a president, said Garcia.
Garcia was chosen out of the three executive board members as president and assumed the presidency during the summer.
“The first two weeks were real busy with book rentals and the ICC (Inter-Club Council) orientation,” said Garcia.
Garcia’s schedule will get busier when student clubs recruit new members during club rush week.
He said that he hopes to be a more available president.
“I expect this to be my second home,” said Garcia.
His main focus will be improving the relationship among student clubs and to improve communication with instructors and staff.
“A lot of (instructors) and staff don’t know what we can do,” said Garcia.
He plans to make several improvements, including increasing the amount of books that are available for the book rental.
In order to be able to carry out the rental program successfully, Garcia said that instructors would have to try to use the same textbook for at least two years.
Books are available to all ASU students on a first-come, first-served basis for a fraction of what it would cost to buy a book.
Garcia has spoken to a representative of the transfer center to see how ASU can help with their events.
A challenge that Garcia said he will have is breaking the stigma ASU has gotten on campus of being dysfunctional, thereby reestablishing their reputation.
“We welcome criticism because then we will know what to improve on,” said Garcia.
He hopes that ASU’s Facebook page will facilitate communication with students.
“Everything is going to be transparent,” said Garcia.
He said that he told the executive board, “We’re students too…it’s not us against them.”
“This board is tremendous because they realize that.”
He will apply this year for USC and hopes to start there next Fall.