Aylin Garcia at Achieving the Dream | Photo courtesy EPCC
National Harbor, Maryland – Aylin Garcia, a freshman economics major at El Paso Community College (EPCC), was competitively selected as a 2020 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream.
Aylin competed with hundreds of students nationally, and she is the first EPCC student to receive this recognition. Garcia received her award at the DREAM 2020 National Conference.
Garcia, a freshman economics major at El Paso Community College (EPCC), was competitively selected as a 2020 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream. Aylin competed with hundreds of students nationally, and she is the first EPCC student to receive this recognition.
Aylin has faced significant struggles in her life, yet she has developed the grit and resilience to keep working to fulfill her dreams, like so many EPCC students.
Each day Aylin, a resident of Juarez, crosses the quarter-mile long bridge between the two countries to attend EPCC’s Rio Grande campus.
Although the two cities’ cultures, residents, and economies are closely connected, Aylin still felt a bit of a culture shock when she first started commuting to attend EPCC. She shares that she’s “still adapting to the American education system and looking forward to opportunities to grow as a human being and as a student.”
Aylin’s family encouraged her studies; however, her parents struggled with their own personal issues, including addiction. This led to a turbulent home life for Aylin and her siblings.
Throughout her childhood, she shares that she always felt anchored and supported by her grandmother, who taught her that “responsibilities and obligations must be placed on the top of our priorities.” Aylin says she found belonging and purpose at school, where she excelled academically and participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, like robotics and basketball.
Aylin attended Preparatoria Central and the Instituto Tesla, both in Juarez. She received rigorous academic training at Preparatoria, instilling a deep intellectual curiosity and love of learning. At Tesla, she learned more about how to be a good human being and developed strong interpersonal and relationship-building skills.
It was during this time that Aylin also gained confidence in her identity and came out to her family, which led to further estrangement with her father. She realized then that she had “no control over the reactions of others.”
Aylin reconnected strongly with her mother during her senior year of high school, but, sadly, her mother became ill with cancer and died a month after graduation. She says she never lost focus on excelling in school, but internally she felt shattered and lost. “Life just lost its sense, its purpose…”
During the dark days after her mother’s death, she reflected on the many life lessons her mother had taught her, and she determined that she would have to give her own life a purpose. After taking a semester to recover from this devastating loss, Aylin started at EPCC.
By returning to her education, Aylin is also honoring her mother, whose only source of genuine happiness was her success in school, and her grandmother, who sacrificed to give her grandchildren a better life.
Aylin sums it up quite simply: “I get to lead the life I want to lead.”
After EPCC, Aylin plans to transfer to New Mexico State University to continue her studies. She is excited to attend the 2020 DREAM Conference, where she will have a unique opportunity to learn about the higher education system and to build professional skills and networks with the other DREAM Scholars.