Alumni Spotlight: Mauricio 'Mo' Garcia
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Written by: Seminole State Staff
Photo: Seminole State President Dr. Georgia L. Lorenz presents Assistant Director of Student Life Mauricio "Mo" Garcia with a certificate of appreciation.
Name: Mauricio “Mo” Garcia
Title and company: Assistant director of student life at Seminole State College of Florida
Program/Degree: Associate in Arts 1990
What factors played into you deciding to attend Seminole State College?
It was location, convenience and affordability.
What were your steps after receiving your credentials at Seminole State?
I was working at a local animal hospital and thought I wanted to pursue a career as a veterinary doctor. One of my mentors at the animal hospital sat down with me and we came up with my plan to achieve just that. It included graduating from Seminole Community College, getting molecular biology and microbiology degrees at UCF and subsequently, transferring to UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Unfortunately, once I got to UCF, I realized that me becoming a veterinarian was not going to happen, I realized that thinking that you want something is completely different from wanting or being good at something. I was not good at organic chemistry and after failing that class twice, I had to really examine why I wanted to be a veterinarian. I realized that I don’t even like animals, when I was at the hospital, I loved the feeling of working in a team environment where people valued what I did and the impact I had. I loved the people and what we did together.
After leaving the veterinary dream behind, I met a person at UCF that eventually became my mentor there and she opened my eyes to the value of learning and understanding yourself by becoming involved in extracurricular activities. I always joke around with my students about the fact that I now get paid to do for a living what I did at UCF for free and for fun. Involvement was crucial for my success and I believe it is the key to discover a lot about one’s self. From having a ton of fun doing really cool things, while at the same time developing your professional and leadership skills, and maybe more important, creating an invaluable network of people that, in my case, where the reason how I ended up back at Seminole State.
After leaving UCF, I went to work at law firm in Alabama making over 100K a year. It was easy work translating legal documents; however, it was completely soulless work that I only agreed to do because of the money. Bad choice, because it was taken using a value (money) that did not really figure into my top five values. After realizing I needed to get out of there, I reached out to my network and ask them to keep an eye out for any position they thought I would be good at. After talking to a lot of friends, whom thought I was crazy for considering leaving such a well remunerated job, one of them told me about Seminole State looking for an activities specialist doing exactly the things I used to do at UCF as a student leader. It was a no brainer! I applied and the rest is history. Yet, it was not until after my fifth year at Seminole State that I began to realize how lucky I was to have found my passion and be living my purpose. I began to hear from students I had met, interacted with and mentored during those previous five years, but that were now inviting me to their college graduations, receiving their bachelors and masters. They were telling me how much they appreciated the time they spent at Seminole State and the advice I have given them. Right there and then, it became clear I was at the place I was always meant to be.
How did your education/time spent at Seminole State help prepare you for where you are now?
I did not spend a lot a time at Seminole State as a student, the reason was I did not make the time. It was when I got to UCF that I realized the opportunity I had missed by not really taking advantage of what Seminole State had to offer. I believe in regrets, why? Because you learn from them. I regret not being more interested in what the College had to offer. I would have gotten so much faster to where I was supposed to get to had I been wiser at Seminole State.
Who or what class was your greatest influence at Seminole State College?
Mary Kiem, biology professor, and Bobby Bell, speech professor. Both of those people represent the treasures that are hidden inside the community college system (state college). Those two people changed my life. Unfortunately, most of us don’t look for that and it is only in hind sight that we realize it.
Professionally and academically, of what are you most proud?
Academically, I would say that I truly discover that you can perform better if you feel part of the institution you are attending. You are more likely to take advantage of opportunities. Professionally, I was inducted last year in the Florida College System Hall of Fame.
What advice do you have for current or prospective Seminole State students?
Do not settle for comfortable. Being comfortable does not mean you are happy. Your job while you are at school is to get the best possible grades, but it is also to maximize your knowledge and understanding of self. That only happens when you step out of your comfort zone and try new things - things that push you, things that make you think. Get involved!
What do you like to do for fun?
I read, do video workshops and presentations, love to walk, go to Disney and chat with friends.
Seminole State College is a fabulous place for any student to start their life journey. Here, you can discover yourself.Mauricio "Mo" Garcia.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Seminole State College is a fabulous place for any student to start their life journey. Here, you can discover yourself. But be mindful: You get out of Seminole State what you put into Seminole State. Those who choose to be “all in" find out more than they thought possible.
What are you doing to help get you through this pandemic?
I take care of my elderly parents which prevents me from going out and volunteering, so I put up informational and motivational videos.
Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.About the Office of Student Life
The Office of Student Life at Seminole State, which has offices on all four campuses, oversees more than 50 student clubs and organizations, provides free student activities and entertainment, and hosts leadership retreats for students. For more information, please visit the Student Life website.