ASU dual master's degree grad found a calling at Changemaker Central

By

Courtney McCune

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Martine Garcia is dedicated to being the change he wants to see in the world.

The dual master’s degree graduate in management and legal studies is passionate about people, community and education and has spent the past year and a half applying these passions by mentoring and advising student leaders at Arizona State University's Changemaker Central.

Changemaker Central is a community of ASU students leading social change locally and globally. When Garcia learned about the work that the student-driven organization was doing in the community and the culture they were building at ASU, he knew it was where he belonged.

“This student led initiative was cultivating servant leaders who are constantly finding ways that their education, experience and network can improve their respective communities,” Garcia said.

Garcia has long been dedicated to leadership in his community, participating in the Hispanic Youth Symposium in high school, joining clubs and organizations at his community college and assisting with the Leadership Launch camp while pursuing his B.S. in communication from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

After graduating with his master’s degrees, Garcia aspires to obtain a doctorate and work in higher education as a college dean or professor. Through this work, he will continue to invest his passion for leadership and social change in the next generation of student and community leaders.

He is also eager to bring a new perspective to education, using what he’s learned at ASU, as well as the knowledge he received working with the students at Changemaker Central.

“It's a privilege to watch these young leaders grow into community leaders who will make meaningful impact,” Garcia said. “Changemaker is a family, and I am lucky to be a part of it all.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: While I was at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, I joined clubs and organizations on campus. It was there that I realized my love for people, community, and education. My career advisor suggested that I major in communication, and it was the perfect fit for my interests and career aspirations. I transferred to ASU and decided to minor in organizational leadership to learn more about how to motivate and develop teams that I worked with. After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I knew that I wanted to still work in higher education, but I wanted to bring a different perspective to education. I then decided to get two master's degrees, one in business management, and one in legal studies. I already had years of experience in professional staff roles at CGCC and ASU. I felt that these credentials would help me in my goal to become a college dean and professor.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: One thing that I learned at ASU that changed my perspective was from one of my professors about stress. I have always been the type of person who had a lot of stuff going on at the same time. Of course, this leads to stress. One of my professors showed me a chart that explained how I should process stress. The two questions at the end led to the same answer:

  • Do you have a problem? No. 
    • Then don't worry.
  • Do you have a problem? Yes.
    • Can you do something about it?
      • Yes. Then don't worry.
      • No. Then don't worry.

It's a pretty common chart, but it really put things into perspective for me. I learned that we can't always control the outcome, but we can always control our reaction to it.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I knew since high school that I would be a Sun Devil. I attended the Hispanic Youth Symposium in 2010 and it was hosted at ASU. I was able to stay in the then brand-new Barrett Honors College dorms. I made some really great friends that I still talk to seven years later, and it gave me a taste of what life at ASU would be like. I loved the sense of pride when walking around campus. Everyone was proud to be a Sun Devil. The weather is just as beautiful as the modern, yet traditional college campus.  Everyone was excited to be independent and learning new things. I am an Arizona boy, and when I thought of a unique college experience, I thought of ASU. I was not disappointed. My time at the community college only confirmed my dreams to be a Sun Devil. I started learning more about the diverse programs, the student life, rankings in athletics and academics and this idea of the New American University. ASU is paving the way for the future of higher education.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: The best piece of advice that I would give is to get involved beyond the classroom. College is not just about doing well in your academics, which is still important. It's also about the network that you make, and the skills that you cultivate through activities. Whether it be through a non-profit in the community, community service, a student organization or club, an internship/externship, or Greek life, these are the experiences that will make your college years memorable and impactful. These extracurricular involvement activities are of course fun, but they also help you to apply things that you are learning in the classroom: how to work in teams, social skills, communication, and other tangible skills that translate to things in the future like job performance or just overall quality of life. Job recruiters know this too and they are looking for people who do great things in and outside the classroom. It also doesn't hurt you to have these types of experiences for scholarship applications.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus would have to be Changemaker Central or the MEChA room. Changemaker is the perfect spot for homework, lunch, to get involved or to meet new people. It serves many purposes and is a positive environment. The MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan) room is a not-so-hidden secret at ASU. The art and history in the room is powerful and stems to Latinx and Indigenous roots. I enjoyed coming here to have meaningful conversations about politics, history, culture or just meet up with close friends.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I had $40 million to solve a problem, I would focus on the graduation rates of minorities in higher education. I would build mentoring centers on college campuses that serve as hubs for fraternities, clubs, organizations and coalitions that focus on this effort. I would work collectively with these groups to find best practices to have mentors host workshops to address issues that are holding back these communities such as lack of funding, lack of guidance or role models, financial literacy, hyper-masculinity, etc. I would build partnerships with other organizations to spread this collective effort nationally. Currently, there is a lot of work being done in this area in pockets, my hope would be to centralize it. The idea would be to create a culture of success, commitment and community that is lacking on many college campuses.