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Staff Spotlight: Keith Garcia

Name: Keith Garcia

Title: Assistant Director

Department: Fraternity & Sorority Life

Where are you from? Bronx, New York

How many years have you worked in Student Affairs at Northwestern? 1.5 years

What Brought you to Student Affairs?
I had a winding path to get to student affairs. During my undergraduate experience I studied business and was actively involved on campus with my fraternity as well as several other Latinx student organizations. My involvement and experience with my campus activities advisor really sparked an interest in the type of work she did. The advice I received from her was to spend time doing exactly what I studied before making the shift into student affairs because it would always be there. I spent several years working in corporate spaces before eventually making a shift into education. I started out at my old high school coordinating scholarship and opportunity programs before eventually pursuing an advanced degree in educational administration-student affairs. I treasure the journey I took to get into this field and the perspective it has offered me.

What recommendation(s) do you have for someone new to Student Affairs?
Find your voice. It is incredibly challenging to do this work if you consistently second guess yourself. I’ve navigated and continue to navigate all of the struggles that come with impostor syndrome. What I have learned is that I am not perfect, there is more that I don’t know than what I do, and it’s OK to grow from challenges and missteps. Rather than being hindered by those realities I’m empowered to show up for myself and my students. I would also encourage you to continue to get to know yourself and what boundaries are in your best interest. It’s not possible to pour from an empty cup and sometimes we burn ourselves out before we’re able to affect students positively. It’s a challenge and it’s possible.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your career?
Mentorship and my mentors, Monica Lee Miranda and Dr. Juan R. Guardia. I have been incredibly fortunate to experience the level of investment others have made into my personal/professional development. Being outspoken, sometimes in ways that were less than effective, drew the attention of my mentors early on. Rather than running from the challenge of assisting a relatively naive professional, they chose to develop me. And that has been my experience with my mentors and supervisors in most every position I’ve held. I will always be incredibly grateful to them for seeing past the boisterous and rough communication style.

How do you like to spend your free time?
I enjoy spending my free time decompressing at home with my partner, Teddy, and our two miniature schnauzers, Sterling and Onyx. My dad’s nickname has always been “homie,” something people called him because he was known as a homebody. It seems as though I’ve inherited that penchant to be cooped up at home spending quality time with those I care for most. Our work requires us to be on so much that when I’m not “on” I much prefer to just enjoy good company and relatively mindless entertainment (it’s a guilty pleasure).

Each week a different staff member in the division of Student Affairs will be featured. Staff can opt in to be featured, by filling out the Staff Spotlight Submission form. Student Affairs Marketing staff reach out to staff from across the division asking for participation. The spotlights will be featured in the Student Affairs Snapshot e-newsletter.

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