Ruben Garcia's Story
Ruben Garcia's Transformational Journey
Ruben Garcia's life took a dramatic turn on November 17, 1995, when he was caught in a drive-by shooting that left him with three bullets in his body and paraplegic. At just 17, Ruben had to adjust to a whole new life from the confines of a wheelchair.
At the time, Ruben was a high school dropout from Vista High School and a young father with a second child on the way. He was in the back seat of a car with a friend when a passing driver shot them. Ruben spent the next three months in the hospital, learning basic skills to gain some level of independence.
Adjusting to his new circumstances was challenging.
It was hard, said Ruben,
I struggled to find my place in the world after that. There's no guidebook for this sort of thing.
The Turning Point: MiraCosta College
Fast forward to 2013, a neighbor suggested that Ruben try going to MiraCosta College as a way to address the psychological toll of his situation.
I was in a bad state, Ruben explained.
Starting college was a way for me to break the cycle and get out of the house.
Enrolling as a disabled student, Ruben took a few classes per semester and faced challenges such as panic attacks in crowds. He found solace and support at the Student Accessibility Services at MiraCosta College.
It gave me a new purpose, Ruben said.
The people there were extremely helpful.
Now 43, Ruben is set to graduate with an associate degree in communications and has been accepted to Cal State San Marcos to pursue a bachelor's degree in the same field. His children, Ruben, 25, and Mirella, 26, are among those cheering him on.
Looking ahead, Ruben aspires to work at MiraCosta College or in the field of social work.
I want to contribute to my community, he said.
I'd like to give back in any way I can.