By Cristal Gomez
First-generation college student Lizabeth Garcia received the Phyllis Grace Mozillo scholarship to attend Loyola Marymount University.
Originally, Garcia received $20,000 in financial aid funds to help with the $30,000 tuition costs but she received $61,960 through the scholarship.
She is a sociology student and is currently in her second year at East Los Angeles College.
She visited LMU for the first time during a school trip with ELAC last semester.
Garcia only applied to two private universities, the University of Southern California and LMU.
“Once I stepped onto campus, it felt like my home. We visited USC first and I didn’t have that same reaction. USC, for me, felt like an apartment or a temporary place. I just knew that LMU had to be my next home,” Garcia said.
Once she had received her financial aid package through the mail, she saw the amount LMU was offering her.
“I honestly couldn’t believe I had won the scholarship. I felt so grateful. I never thought I would have received it,” Garcia said after receiving a call from LMU financial aid to notify her that she won the scholarship.
During her time off, she is part of the Los Angeles School Police Explorer Program.
She has been part of the program for two years.
In LASPD she trains exercises and runs scenarios about police situations.
Garcia also helps Long Beach City Hall with beach cleanups.
“I enjoy doing the cleanups. It saddens me sometimes to see how dirty the beaches are, especially once you get closer to the water and see the plastic rings from sodas or beers. It feels good to give back to the environment in some way. I was able to meet new people and we all came together to help clean the beach,” Garcia said.
When Garcia took her first math course at ELAC, she met Kajol Desai at the Educational Opportunity Programs and Services Office.
Desai was a math tutor for EOPS during the fall 2016 semester.
“Lizabeth is an honest and caring person. She will always tell you the truth, no matter what. I think that is what makes her stand out from everyone else.
“There was a time when we went shopping to Forever 21 and a Logic song came on and she just began to sing the song. People were looking at us, but we were just having fun,” Desai said.
Garcia is part of EOPS, where she met her counselor Carmen Soto.
Soto helped her with the application process for private universities.
“Lizabeth is tenacious, curious and creative. I will often recommend certain opportunities for students, such as exploring private universities … Sometimes students are hesitant because it may feel like unknown territory for them.
“Instead, Lizabeth met this opportunity with a desire to know more, visit different campuses and take a risk to apply to private universities like USC and LMU, that she had never considered,” Soto said.
Soto said that she got to know Lizabeth through her college applications.
“She had a great story to tell in her transformation from being a high school senior, unsure of what to do and coming to ELAC, to realizing her interest in Sociology.
“She also has great perspective in respect to the challenges students face in the transfer process, which I think has allowed her to better understand her peers and I expect she will be a great role model for future transfer students,” Soto said.