Samantha Garcia is the type of student you know you would be proud of. She has a clear focus of where she wants to go in life, plans to join a career where women might fear to tread, and is overcoming some pretty formidable obstacles to get there. Her prime motivator just might be that she has to prove people wrong.
“My sister told me out of high school that I shouldn’t consider college because by the time I got started I’d be married and pregnant,” said Garcia. That isn’t happening and Sammy is in her second year at Centralia College, headed toward to career in criminal justice.
“I want to join a SWAT team (Special Weapons And Tactics, team, an elite paramilitary tactical unit in American law enforcement departments). You don’t see many women, at least in real life, as members. I’ve been told it’s too much and I should try something else.” Another opportunity to prove someone wrong.
Before you suggest that those naysayers might have a point, hear this: In her first entry into a SWAT challenge she was the first Centralia College female to complete the challenge course. She ran the 1.5 mile run in under 10 minutes and finished off 50 push ups and 50 sit ups where 35 each was the standard. Add the challenge course pull ups and other physical challenges and you get the idea that Garcia can hold her own. She has a history a lot of time in the gym showing that’s she serious about her career choice.
Her list of activities continues with participation on a co-ed soccer team and two part-time jobs to help pay college costs. She also brings brain power to the table carrying a 3.5 grade point average and this year, as an honor student, she received a Centralia College Foundation scholarship.
“The scholarship is important, it will make a big difference for me. I am helping out my parents so I’ll keep the part-time jobs but now I won’t have to work three jobs,” she said. Garcia said she didn’t plan on applying for a scholarship but realized that it could make a difference so she made the application.
“Getting the (award) letter was awesome. I don’t think I expected it. It was an amazing feeling to know that there are people out there who have faith in me. I know I’ll be able to spend more time studying,” she said.
Garcia was born in Longview and came to Centralia when she was five. She completed high school but had no idea what kind of career she wanted. She spent two years after high school doing jobs she knew she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life doing.
“I really didn’t know anything about criminal justice college programs. I watched a lot of the ID: Investigation Discovery channel and that helped me decide that I wanted a career in law enforcement and that I wanted to be on a SWAT team,” said Garcia. She searched online and found the Centralia College criminal justice program. “I was what I was looking for and it was here. Also, I heard that it was really good so I enrolled.”
One of her favorite classes covered law and criminal justice.
“Law enforcement people need to know the legal issues,” she said. “People (on both sides of the law) have rights and there are a lot of laws.” She said law enforcement officers need to know those rights and the laws that protect people. “It’s an important part of criminal justice,” she said.
Garcia had high praise for the college’s instructors.
After she completes her studies at Centralia College she plans to transfer to Saint Martins University in Lacey to continue her studies in criminal justice. And as far as a career in criminal justice service as a member of a SWAT team is concerned, don’t tell her she can’t do it. Doubtless she will prove you wrong.