Today@Sam Article

Heritage Magazine: The Perfect Recipe For Student Success

June 5, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

Garcia-square.jpgOne of the key features of working in criminal justice is being a public servant and working for the betterment of the community. Kayla Garcia’s experience as a graduate assistant at the Sam Houston State University Food Pantry has provided her with the perfect opportunity to gain experience serving her community.

Growing up in the small border town of San Juan, Texas, Garcia said exposure to movies and TV shows such as “Law and Order” and “CSI” sparked an early interest in working in law enforcement. She quickly became enamored with the idea of entering the field and doing what she could to make the world a better place.

After spending her grade school years participating in clubs and organizations associated with criminal justice, Garcia decided she needed to attend a university with an exemplary program, which brought her to SHSU. Here, she joined numerous criminal justice related groups and decided to double major for her bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of what I originally wanted to do had to do with understanding an offender’s mind and how complex it can get,” Garcia said. “When I was discussing this with my advisors, I knew psychology was also an interest and, because of early college programs, I was supposed to graduate in my second semester, so I decided to double major in psychology.”

During those first semesters on campus Garcia and her roommate saw numerous flyers for the Food Pantry; eventually their curiosity led them to see what the pantry had to offer. What she discovered was an amazing resource that could help her cut costs and a place to work when she moved on to her graduate degree.

Garcia-bonus-photo.jpg“This past August I completed one year with the pantry, which is really exciting,” Garcia said. “It kind of came full circle since I used to come to the food pantry often for distributions.”

Thanks to her own experience utilizing the food pantry’s resources, Garcia now helps create a welcoming, judgement-free environment for students visiting the pantry as the graduate assistant. In this role, Garcia assigns tasks to volunteers, places orders to stock shelves for distribution, assists in unloading pallets of food and packages emergency food kits.

Garcia believes that being able to engage with community members and show them compassion is applicable in criminal justice professions. In fact, she has found that becoming an effective communicator can help any team succeed.

“My communication skills have gone through the roof as a team leader,” Garcia said. “It’s been nice to be able to strategically discuss things with people and have them understand what we need to do. I used to be very shy and reserved and I feel like this has really helped me effectively get out of that box.”

While a position at the food pantry may seem unrelated to Garcia’s career path, she said her time working there has provided her with skills and experience that will be essential to her future success.

“I like working here and adapting to these new skills and new environments,” Garcia said. “I feel like it has helped me understand different traits and learn new skills. I’ve gained a better understanding of what I really want to do in the future and what parts of the job truly resonate with me.”

To read the full version of Heritage Magazine - Spring 2024, follow this link.

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