The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Event celebrates success

By Victor Henderson/reporter

In a room filled with colorful balloons, intricate centerpieces and the smell of Mexican cuisine, TCC celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and honored students at the fourth annual Abrazando al Exito on South Campus.

Abrazando al Exito, which means “embracing success” in Spanish, is a cultural exhibit of Latin music, dancing and food. The Oct. 9 event also featured keynote speaker Claudia Garcia, who shared her story of becoming the first person in her family to become a college graduate.

“My senior year in high school, I had no intentions of going to college,” Garcia said. “In my mind, I was going to be cleaning houses like my mother.”

High school graduation was bittersweet for Garcia because she was poor, undocumented and felt college was beyond her reach. However, a mentor from her church persuaded her to seek help from TCC.

With the assistance of an advisor, she enrolled in classes and graduated with her Associate of Arts degree in 2005.

Garcia’s next goal was to attend a university to achieve her dream of working in higher education. But in the fall of 2005, at 21 years old, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Hearing the word ‘cancer’ at a young age was a difficult concept to grasp, but I knew I had to be strong and survive,” Garcia said.

After 32 weeks of chemotherapy and 12 rounds of radiation, Garcia was cancer-free. After treatment, she returned to Texas Woman’s University and became involved in campus activities. Two years later, she was awarded a bachelor’s degree.

In 2011, she graduated with a Master’s of Business Administration and a Master’s of Health Systems Management from Texas Woman’s University.

“After a humbling year of cleaning houses with two master’s degrees, the Deferred Action legislation made it possible to allow undocumented students, like myself, the opportunity to work legally in the United States,” Garcia said.

Garcia has achieved her dream of working in higher education. She is the college access coordinator on South Campus.

“My success is not measured on the position I hold, but rather by the obstacles I have overcome and the lessons I have learned from them,” Garcia said.

For some students, attending Abrazando al Exito let them experience a different culture.

“I wanted to learn more about Hispanic heritage,” said student Taylor Gaines. “I was able to take away much more than I expected. Claudia Garcia’s story was truly inspirational.”

Student Alexia Acosta Ojeda received a scholarship that will cover two semesters of tuition.

“Winning this scholarship doesn’t mean success to me, but I feel rewarded for what I’ve been doing so far,” she said.

Acosta Ojeda plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station in the fall and become a biomedical engineer. She also wants to go to Mexico in the future and study to become an oncologist.

“I want to live life and help those around me,” she said.

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