Natalie Garcia

Natalie Garcia

Photo by James Tensuan, '15 Photojournalism

Dean's Scholar

Major: English
College of Humanities and the Arts

Why did you choose your major?

Why not do what you love?  I have been an avid reader since I was in middle school and have never lost the passion to read.  In addition, I love to learn, and reading allows me to learn anything.

Yet, English allows me to be flexible and adaptable in the various roles I find myself in as a student and professional.  The skills I have learned as a English major carry over into all disciplines and career roles. I can communicate effectively, think critically, delve into research, and share this knowledge with those around me (which might just be the best part--engaging and interacting with people).

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

That my hardwork and dedication is recognized beyond simply earning a grade.  This award came as a surprise, making it more meaningful since I stood out as a student on my own─without an ulterior motive to be recognized, but for my own personal convictions to do well and create my best work always.  Not only does this award highlight and reinforce that the countless hours of classwork was time well spent, I think this should also show all students that giving your best effort will always be noticed and you will eventually be rewarded─in ways that perhaps are not known in the moment, but will come up and surprise you later, like this award did to me.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?  In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

I have had the privilege to be taught by an outstanding faculty here at San Jose State.  Of course give my greatest gratitude to my English professors. However, with particular thanks to Professor Brada-Williams, Professor Stork, Professor Eastwood, Professor Mitchell, and especially Professor Harris.   Dr. Harris has not only inspired me in the classroom, but also as we worked to create and plan the Frankenstein Bicentennial at San Jose State University.  Dr. Harris’ instance on great work, as well as in depth research and critical analysis of texts and concepts, has not only aided me in becoming a better thinker, but also has shown me I am able to meet high expectations and given me the confidence to pursue lofty goals for myself academically, professionally, and personally.   

However, none of this would have been possible without the ever-present support from my family.  Specifically, my husband who has dealt with the stressed-out, overwhelmed, tunnel-vision Natalie who was always busy with school.  His support always brought me back to earth when I was overthinking and reinforced my ability to do well. He is always supporting my decisions and inspiring me to expand my horizons and push what I believe I am capable of while also reminding me of my limits─learning to say no before agreeing to take on more work.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

Many experiences define a person.  To choose just one is difficult because different aspects of who I am stem from various experiences.  

As an academic, a pivotal experience that has shaped who I am today would be my decision to leave the first university I attended directly out of high school, in southern California, to transfer to a junior college close to home in the Bay Area.  Not only has this allowed me to receive an education without going into debt, it has provided me with job opportunities that would not have been available to me at my previous university. I have grown professionally and have been inspired to pursue my degree in English because I transfered.  

I would not be the person I am now, and I would not be where I am at in life now, had I not transferred.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

Be kind, always have the goal to do good, and be tenacious.  Have the grit to keep going and the courage to start. Obstacles help you learn, as does failure, just as much as a success─so don’t be afraid of any of it.  Most importantly, however, is that you can’t compare yourself to anyone else. My uncle has given me some great advice over the years, something I believe applicable to everyone: “the race is long, but in the end it is only against yourself.”

What makes you a Spartan?

I fell in love with this school during my first visit to campus for Admitted Spartan Day.   The academic rigor, the involvement within the campus community, and my love of being a student at San Jose State University all combine to make me a proud Spartan.  


Nominated by Katherine Harris
Professor, English

"Natalie is the project manager for the Frankenstein Bicentennial -- prior to this, she has spent the last few years exploring 19th-century literature and literary theory. I hired her as the project manager for this university-wide position because she has a real quest for knowledge, and she's not afraid to try new ideas. Her work on the Frankenstein Bicentennial has been extraordinary -- she's the driving force behind the social media campaigns and engagement with students across several universities. She also has a true collaborator on the project."