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Meet Michaela Garcia

For Medal of Academic Merit Scholar Michaela Garcia, college was a natural next step. But when she first arrived on the MiraCosta College campus, little did she know she would make such a huge impact in her community. That’s because it all began on a whim.

Growing up, school was only sometimes linear for Michaela. When she was younger, circumstances out of her control forced her in and out of the classroom. Then, as she grew older, she worked full-time to provide for her family while completing the coursework necessary to receive her diploma from the Escondido Adult School.

“That’s when my partner mentioned something about the MiraCosta College Promise Program,” shared Michaela.

While she didn’t know much, the promise of receiving financial support to pursue higher education was something Michaela couldn’t ignore. The only question was whether it was feasible. So, without much hesitation, Michaela signed up for the Welcome Week on campus and joined other prospective students to get a feel for what it would be like at MiraCosta College.

“I went there hoping to learn more and see if MiraCosta College would be an option for the future,” said Michaela. “The next thing I know, I’m officially a student.”

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe I’m enrolling in college,’ she joked when recounting how she signed up that same week. “But right away, I fell in love with the school, the community, and all the resources MiraCosta College had to offer.”

Within weeks, Michaela was walking into her first class as the first in her family to attend college. Shortly after that, she joined her first club. Fast forward a couple of years, and Michaela is now one of the most active and successful students on campus.

Shared Michaela, “MiraCosta College has opened up a whole world of opportunity to me. I came in not knowing if it would be possible to have a career doing what I love, now I know there are so many pathways in front of me to choose from.”

Upon enrolling, one of the first clubs Michaela joined was the Fine Arts Club. As a lifelong artist, Michaela was interested in connecting with other students who shared her passion. This decision turned out to be one of her best decisions on campus.

Soon after joining, the group was putting together a gallery show and said Michaela should showcase her work with the other students in the club. Unsure at first, Michaela agreed and presented a few pieces at the Blue Gate Gallery.

Recalled Michaela, “I couldn’t believe it when someone came up and asked how much to buy one of my paintings,” recalled Michaela. “I will never forget how great it felt to put the ‘sold’ sticker on my piece. It was such a moment of immense pride.”

It was also a turning point in her journey.

From that moment, Michaela knew she wanted to chase that feeling and help others do the same.

“I’ve lived through a lot and I know that the biggest barrier for people is often the lack of resources,” noted Michaela.

Since then, Michaela has spent the past two years organizing galleries, trips, and other opportunities for her fellow students to learn, grow, and chase their passions. She not only became the President of the Fine Arts Club, but Michaela took on a leadership role as Chair of the Inter-Club Council, where she can help all clubs on campus access resources and create new opportunities for students.

When asked why she works so hard to support the community around her, Michaela quickly points out the joy she gets from advocating for others. She is equally as passionate about seeing others succeed as she is chasing her dreams. So much so that she was recently honored with the college's highest academic award, the Medal of Academic Merit.

“I was truly shocked when I learned that I was receiving the award,” said Michaela. “To think that people recognized the work I’ve done is incredible and makes me want to continue uplifting as many people as I can.”

For Michaela, it’s just the beginning. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career as a printmaker in San Diego and open a nonprofit art and community space where other people can come, feel safe, and showcase their work.

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