Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Students of USM

Posted on February 29, 2016 in Community
By USM Free Press

Submitted Photo

By Meaghan Gonsior

Moving across the country can be exciting, scary and refreshing all at the same time. It can expand a person’s horizons, promote gratitude, and present new opportunities and challenges that would otherwise not exist. Colorado native Mariah Garcia decided to try something new as she embarked on her college career three years ago. After her best friend moved to Maine from Colorado, she encouraged Garcia to give it shot, with all the possibilities that the East coast has to offer.

Garcia, a junior Social Work major, attributes much of who she is to her family’s influence. Her mom and dad started hosting foster children about five years ago, and they recently adopted a nine year old from the foster care system. Due to this firsthand experience with foster siblings, Garcia is planning to work in the system after graduating from USM. She is open to staying on the East coast or returning home to Colorado. She imagines that deciding where she settles will depend mostly on her job prospects when the time comes.

“I feel like [foster care] is very needed. I’ll love being able to work with kids,” Garcia explained adding, “It’s scary, but I feel like I’m going to love it. Keeping my work at work will be difficult.”  

Another important part of Garcia’s life is being active, both in the gym and outdoors. She credits her father as a major role model in this respect. “He’s the one who really got me into sports.” Garcia’s father played Division 1 basketball, and her 16 year old brother plays “every sport known to man,” Garcia added with a laugh. She currently plays on the USM volleyball team, traveling around New England for games.

“I love everything about volleyball, it’s become a passion. It’s definitely been my favorite sport out of all the sports I’ve played.” In high school, Garcia also played basketball and tennis. “I do miss contact sports,” Garcia added, reflecting on her experience as manager for USM’s basketball team. Her other hobbies include hiking and snowboarding, and she’s been slightly disappointed by this unseasonably warm Northeast winter.

A part of the thrill of experiencing a new region is comparing its cultural and environmental differences to home. “My dad LOVES Boston,” Garcia said of her parent’s visit to the East coast. “He noticed how people walk here. . . People here walk so smoothly, like they know where they’re going. They don’t stop . . . It’s also crazy being so close to the ocean and there’s so much history here.” After reflecting on general personality differences, Garcia added, “People on the east coast are so upfront and honest; blunt even . . . definitely different than Colorado.”

Many successful college students experience varying levels of anxiety about their future. This is true for Garcia, as well. With so many unknowns awaiting, from the future economy and job market, to finding personal satisfaction in a particular career; it’s easy to understand why fear creeps in.

“I’m afraid that I will not absolutely love studying social work, or find my spot in the world of foster care. I’m kind of afraid that I won’t be able to succeed out here on the East coast.”

One way that Garcia combats any fear paralysis is by recognizing her fears and not settling into a funk. “I always make sure I’m never in my comfort zone for too long. Pushing my boundaries and stepping outside my comfort zone keeps me learning and constantly growing.” Garcia also uses a tenacious attitude to keep things fresh, not letting herself settle for the status quo. “I have a horrible tendency to do just a little more than what’s expected.[I try to] push myself for the above and beyond.”

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