Olivia Garcia

Olivia Garcia

I’ve been looking forward to Women’s History Month since last semester when I began working with my Bakersfield College colleagues, history professors Erin Miller, Tina Mendoza, Rosa Garza and a host of other trailblazers, in planning key events for campus this March.

However, in the process of planning for Women’s History Month campus events, I am reminded of people who have influenced me to become the woman I am today. So it makes me wonder: Who shaped you?

For me, it goes back to my abuelos, or my grandparents, Raul and Juanita. Aside from my grandfather serving during World War II, my abuelos spent most of their lives as farmworkers and each month, they got by stretching a dollar as best they could. Nevertheless, they were the ones whose richness came in the form of love, hope and faith. They made me believe I could do anything if I set my heart to it.

{Shortly after I became the first in my family in attend college, I lost my grandmother to cancer, then a couple years later, as a newlywed with my firstborn and working my first professional job as a newspaper reporter, I lost my abuelo. Yet somehow, I don’t feel like they have left me at all.

I always feel them close.

Another person is my mom, Eva, who I am lucky enough to still have around. She has always let me be me, even when I seemed like the goofy nerd or oddball in the family. Allowing me to find my own self and chase my own dreams has meant everything. Still does.

{p dir=”ltr”}{span}Then there are my relatives, like my sisters and cousins who, at the drop of a hat, have always been there for me. My sisters give me strength and plenty of laughs to appreciate life’s curveballs; there is so much beauty in sisterhood. My cousin Eddie always brings the humor and keeps me grounded and grateful for our humble beginnings and current successes.

There’s also my husband, Julio. Many know him as this tough, proud Marine, deputy sheriff/SWAT team guy and range master instructor. Yet there is a soft side. He’s the one who’s always pushed me to be my best in my profession and give back to our community, even if that meant time away from home, and he had to pick up chores, cook dinner or help the kids with homework. I love him for that.{/span}

My four sons, ages ranging from 9 to 20, have taught me a few things about striking the right balance between work and family. Their unconditional love has shown me how to be a better human and that life is not just about living for yourself but for others. They’ve taught me that nothing beats making memories with those you love.

Every now and then, I think about the mentors at different stages in my life. As a first-time college student and seriously doubting my purpose there, I met professor Kathy Freeman, who not only taught me about the rules of journalism but a lot about life. The same goes to my former supervisor in the media business, Mary Lou Fulton, who saw so much in me when I didn’t and because of her, I discovered new opportunities. Same goes for Alicia Rodriquez, my former grad school professor. She challenged me and inspired me to pursue my passion for history.

So this Women’s History Month, take time to recognize not only the phenomenal women, both past and present, and their achievements, but also reflect on yourself. Give yourself some praise. But remember to thank those who have shaped you into the extraordinary person you are today.

Olivia Garcia is a history professor at Bakersfield College. She is the former editor of Bakersfield Life Magazine and a Dining Diva for 2018.

(1) comment


Thank you for your insight, about a very personal subject.

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