During Kristina Garcia’s first visit to campus, she had her mother by her side, waiting for her in the Jobe Lounge while interviewing for associate dean of communications and behavioral sciences. “At one point during my interview, I mentioned my family and what I hoped for in a working environment, noting my family as a central priority in my life,” said Garcia. “In that moment, I decided to mention that I was here with my mother, unsure of how this would be received. My interviewers did not bat an eye, and a few even shared their own experiences. That was the confirmation I needed, and I can personally attest to the support I have felt during my time here.”
Garcia’s unconditional support for her family is reflected in her role as associate dean in supporting Elgin Community College faculty and students. Read more about Garcia’s work at ECC, her experience with martial arts, and what trip she’s hoping to make a reality soon.
What do you do at ECC/what do you want others to know/understand about your job? As an associate dean, my goal is to support faculty and students through evaluation, program development, assessment, and general day-to-day support. I’m fortunate to also work with faculty, staff, and administrators on equity, instructional design, and student success initiatives. In short, no two days within my week look the same, and I am grateful to have that variety.
If you could instantly be an expert at one thing, what would you choose? Languages! I would love the chance to understand the complexities of various languages!
What do you like to do outside of work? What are some of your favorite hobbies, places to go, activities, etc.? I am fortunate to have taught both undergraduate and graduate students in leadership studies and educational leadership (higher education) at Northeastern Illinois University.
I love reading and have recently delved back into fiction. Currently, I am exploring the works of Octavia Butler.
I have trained in a martial art called Wing Tsun for the past few years and enjoy it tremendously. Wing Tsun is a traditional form of Chinese Kung Fu specializing in using your attacker’s force against them through timing and precision. Wing Tsun has transformed how I view self-defense and conflict and has become crucial in managing my general wellness and mental health.
I have been an avid gamer (both video games and tabletop board games) for most of my life. Though I don’t get the opportunity to play as often as I would like, I tend to get most of my playtime in during semester breaks and long weekends.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled, or where is somewhere you dream of going, and why? I hope to someday return to my father’s homeland of Cuba (specifically, Bauta, which is southwest of Havana City). My father fled Cuba during the US-organized “Freedom Flights” and could not return to his home country in his lifetime. I am working to make this trip to Cuba a reality.
Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn. I was a manager for GameStop for roughly six years and am forever grateful for the friends I made there. We remain connected and regularly do our best to “show up” for one another’s significant life events and celebrations.
What piece of advice would you share with your 20-year-old self or with our students? Think of your life in terms of “chapters” rather than a linear path. I used to believe that I needed to have a clear “long-term” plan for myself early on. My path within the professional world and higher education have had a variety of twists and turns, and I now realize that had I strictly abided by a linear path, I would not have found the opportunities and experiences I have now. So now I think in terms of “chapters” and strive to follow projects, initiatives, and roles that I find personally interesting. You can have a general direction, but having the flexibility to move and change makes more sense to me and helps to reduce a great deal of the pressure I used to place on myself.
What was your first-ever job? What is one thing you can say you took away from it? I was a camp counselor for elementary-aged children in my local park district. I remained with the park district as a camp counselor and after-school care provider for multiple years. Through these experiences, I learned the importance of compassion when working with children, which helped me first explore my future career as an educator.
Favorite movie, book, tv show? Share one or a few of your favorites! One of my all-time favorite texts is “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” by Gloria Anzaldúa. I first read this work as an undergraduate student, and it completely transformed the way I viewed identity. I devoured this book. I had never felt so “seen” by an author, and to this day, I regularly keep at least two copies of this text in my possession—one to keep and one to give away.
I am a Star Wars fan. So much so that my husband and I integrated elements of Star Wars into our wedding and reception (think dancing stormtroopers and “bring your own lightsaber”).
I also have an affinity for “Star Trek the Next Generation.” Science fiction can offer incredible ways to consider complex life questions, and I regularly find myself revisiting episodes as a form of comfort. Hearing the opening theme reminds me of my childhood and the countless times I watched episodes alongside my dad.
Garcia will be transitioning into the role of Dean of Communications and Behavioral Sciences effective July 1, 2022.