‘Need to work hard’

HARLINGEN — When he first arrived here, he didn’t know a word of English.

Now Adrian Garcia, a senior at Harlingen School of Health Professions, speaks perfect English.

“Whenever you’re very eloquent in your way of speaking, it makes it more successful to advocate for your beliefs,” said Adrian, 18, who immigrated with his family from Valle Hermoso, Mexico, in 2010.

And beliefs, well, he has so many, and it shows in his numerous activities.

“We just had a meeting for HCISD’s Health Advisory Committee, which I’m a member on,” he said with great enthusiasm.

“I served on the Unidas Contra Diabetes steering committee, and I’m on the School-Based Health Alliance,” he said. “We do school-based health care centers. I’m on the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. I chair one of their advisory boards that homes in on youth transportation safety.”

Adrian said ever since he arrived here from Mexico, his whole mission has been to advocate for students who have no voice.

“I was that student who didn’t speak English, who didn’t know people,” he said. “So I kind of had to get back on my feet and meet people and kind of get involved.”

He remembers a friend inviting him to a class meeting. One taste of student leadership and he was hooked. He ran for class president and won.

“From then on it just kept on going,” he said. “I got invited to join Rotary, I got invited to a committee with the school district, a lot of national advisory boards and committees and commissions.”

His life, nine years after he immigrated to Harlingen from Mexico, is something he could never have imagined back then.

“To sum it all up, I never thought that I’d be where I am today,” he said. “I never thought that it would be possible for the boy who moved here in 2010 and didn’t know English to be on school district committees. Now my whole mission is to tell other students, ‘It’s possible to do so. You just need to work hard.’ And that’s what it takes.”

He’s shown he’s up to the task. He spoke in-depth about his work with the School-Based Health Alliance.

“We’re a national organization,” he said. “We’ve established about 2,200 health centers and they provide primary care to students nationwide.”

He’d just returned from the national conference of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in San Marcos.

“We had our executive director, guest speakers from Texas A&M like the brigadier general of the Corps of Cadets, delegates from Georgia, Utah and many different states, and it was a pleasure,” he said. “We received several grants from Union Pacific and General Motors. I got to work with a lot of different people, a lot of board members, a lot of student leaders from across the country.”

He gave a warm mention to everyone who has helped him along the way.

“I had a lot of great mentors, a lot of great friends that have pushed, that have told me, ‘You’re good enough, you’re prepared enough, you’re intelligent enough to do this,’” he said.

He also spoke of teachers, principals and “my parents, who are absolutely amazing, who have taught me that it should always be service above self.”

He plans to continue that service beyond high school. He plans to pursue a career in medicine and has been accepted to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio which has awarded him a $23,000 scholarship.

“That’s one of the options,” he said. “I’m waiting on financial aid packages from the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s also an amazing school.”

Any other dreams?

“Essentially my whole mission is to come back and give back to a community that gave me so much, by serving our students and our community members,” he said. “One of my dreams would be to serve my students and my community on the board of trustees some day in the future.”

And so it appears the gift Harlingen gave Adrian is one that keeps on giving.

What it’s about

The School-Based Health Alliance works to improve the health of children and youth by advancing and advocating for school-based health care. Their vision is that all children and adolescents are healthy and achieving at their fullest potential. https://www.sbh4all.org/about/

Adrian Garcia

AGE: 18

GRADE: Senior at Harlingen School of Health Professions

PARENTS: Camilo and Adriana Garcia