November 9, 2021 — A cornerstone of the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCaP) is that it brings together nine disciplines that not only relate to each other, but inform each other.
Ariadna Garcia’s education within HCaP proves just that. Although she never planned on double majoring, the senior is prepared to graduate with degrees in Criminology & Criminal Justice and Psychology – and has plans to pursue a career in social work.
Although she initially chose to minor in criminal justice, with plans to pursue forensic psychology, her trajectory changed as she began taking more classes.
This change of direction isn’t uncommon among UTSA students – with professors who are experts in their field, students often discover areas that they didn’t know existed. For Garcia, that area wasn’t even in her major.
“I’d like to pursue my master’s in social work after gaining some experience in the workforce,” Garcia said. “My internship was a big part of that decision.”
Garcia currently interns with the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice. In addition to attending meetings and shadowing parole officers, she has a major role in helping youth with the re-entry process.
“I mentor youths within the system,” Garcia says. “I find resources to help them re-enter society, to aid the halfway houses with getting them prepared for reentry into society.”
Mentoring is second nature to Garcia, who has served as a peer mentor since her second year at UTSA. In University Peer Mentorship, first-year students connect with a peer mentor in their same Academic Studies and meet three times throughout the semester. During these meetings, peer mentors guide students through topics that are crucial to being successful academically and socially at UTSA.
“When I was in the program as a freshman, I was really inspired by my own peer mentor,” Garcia said. “I thought becoming a mentor would be a good way for me to give back to UTSA.”
Garcia is now a senior peer mentor and says that the experience has been the best during her four years at UTSA. “I think that as much as I share with my mentees and teach them, I also learn from them,” she said. “As a senior peer mentor, being more involved in the program has helped me learn a lot that I wouldn’t have if I had just stayed a regular peer mentor.”
Garcia draws on her own experiences at UTSA to encourage her students. “I like to share my path with my mentees and make it clear that even if you’re doing one thing that you might not think is related to another, it can still be incredibly helpful and relative to what you want to do in the future,” she said.
Garcia is grateful for every class that helped her build the foundation toward her career plans, and encourages other students to put in the work in order to find their own dreams. “Try as hard as you can,” she said. “Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Sometimes, you’re not going to get everything you want. But as long as you’re working hard, and giving it your all, that’s what really matters.”