HARLINGEN — Rosalinda Garcia has her life all figured out.
As in derivatives, differential equations and integrals.
For the past four years, Rosalinda has been teaching calculus, pre-calculus and other advanced math classes at Marine Military Academy.
In fact, her ability to break down and explain complicated material helped earn her a Teacher of the Year award this past school year.
“I was quite shocked when I got that,” Rosalinda said of the accolade. “I mean, I’ve only been at MMA for a short while. There are teachers there who have been around for years.”
But, while Rosalinda may be new to the ranks at MMA, she is no stranger to teaching math.
For 22 years, she was a math instructor at San Benito High School, where she herself graduated from back in 1983, which was also the same year she was named Miss San Benito.
“If there was a math class at San Benito, chances are I taught it,” she said. “I also taught computer science courses as well, but math was my specialty.”
Rosalinda said she ultimately left San Benito High because over the years too many changes in the public education system left her focusing less on teaching and more on the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy.
“What I like about MMA is that teachers here get to concentrate on teaching and helping the kids grow, which is what it’s supposed to be all about,” she said.
After high school, Rosalinda enrolled at the University of Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV), but dropped out after a few years to get married.
Eventually, however, she found her way back to school and decided to major in mathematics.
“I originally had planned on majoring in computer information systems when I had first entered college,” she said. “But when I went back to school, I suddenly realized that I had gotten all As in my math classes without even really trying. It was at this point that I decided that maybe math would be in my future.”
At first, she considered using math to become an engineer. “But after a while, I realized that teaching was what I wanted to do because I wanted to help inspire others to get interested in math,” she said. “A lot of times people don’t consider math as a future career and I think that’s because they don’t get inspired to do so early on. I was when I was young and I wanted to do that for others.”
While math plays a big part of Rosalinda’s life, it’s only a fraction (pun intended) of what makes her tick.
Rosalinda, who has a 24-year-old daughter who also graduated from San Benito High, is very involved at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in San Benito, where she plays guitar for the choir.
“I’ve been playing since I was 12 years old,” she said. “In fact, I used that talent to help win me the Miss San Benito crown back in 1983.”
She also likes to volunteer at the San Benito Food Pantry, spends her summers in Florida and, about a year ago, learned to ride a motorcycle, and now rides her Harley-Davidson trike into work some days.
“I love it and the kids get a big kick out of it,” she said. “My boyfriend and I are even talking about riding up to Sturgis (South Dakota) for next summer’s rally.”
At least that what she “figures” on doing.