“No Hay Que Llegar Primero, Pero Hay Que Saber Llegar”

Jennifer Garcia Forges Her Path as a Journalist

 

Jennifer Garcia“No Hay Que Llegar Primero, Pero Hay Que Saber Llegar” - Jennifer Garcia Forges Her Path as a Journalist

 

Jennifer Garcia, a first-generation Mexican-American who was born and raised in Brooklyn, discovered City College after taking a gap year. She made a leap of faith, transferring from architecture to business and journalism. The Colin Powell School allowed her to level up her career aspirations and accomplish more than she thought possible, thanks to its diverse range of programs, internships, and fellowship opportunities. Jennifer was in the inaugural cohort of NBCU Academy Fellows, which exposed her to journalism and connected her to her dream internship. As a rising senior, she is steadily building her network and acquiring new skills as a confident multimedia journalist — “and it’s only up from here!”

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? 

My name is Jennifer Garcia, born and raised in Brooklyn, and I am a first-generation Mexican-American. For a long time, I felt constrained by the hyphen that described parts of my identity. Being first-generation there were a lot of things I had to figure out on my own, especially when applying to college. As a Mexican-American, I felt that my background was used against me a lot, especially in terms of academic achievements. Sometimes no matter how hard I worked, my achievements were always reduced down to “affirmative action.” I started my career in architecture, being an architecture major my last two years at Brooklyn Technical High School and was accepted at the University of Illinois school of architecture. I interned at great firms such as FXFOWLE and the New York City School Construction Authority. I enjoyed my time in architecture, but always felt something was missing. I took a gap year and decided to reflect on the things that brought me joy. I loved architecture as a creative outlet and I’m good at math, but I couldn’t see myself constrained to a desk doing math for the majority of my day. I transferred to City College because I still wasn’t sure where my career path was taking me. There is a joke that those who quit architecture end up becoming business majors, so I rolled with it, especially because I hoped to get some form of financial literacy that I lacked when racking up my student loans. My first semester on campus was Fall 2019, and then the pandemic shut everything down. I’ve always loved writing and was taking the introduction journalism classes, but I was always told that journalism was not a worthwhile profession. During the pandemic I decided to minor in journalism and find a way to be able to channel my love for writing as a creative outlet to inform people. 
 
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS?

Having gone to a specialized high school, there was a notion that we should strive for Ivy League and private schools and there was definitely a stigma against CUNY and SUNY schools. I came to believe that these were schools one “settled for.” After taking my gap year and doing more research, I found that City College is a Hispanic Serving Institution and I learned about the history of the school as an educational place for all. I was still unsure about what new career prospect to pursue, but I knew that the Colin Powell School would help me judge all my options and then get me on the career track where I wanted to be.  

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My passion behind my studies is to use what I have learned to help others. I’ve always said that at the end of the day, I hope to be a person who gives more than I take. I hope to one day be able to use my skills and knowledge to help the community, be it through informing people with the news or helping people become more financially literate and open up conversations in public service.

Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

In terms of my career path, I would say I am farther than I thought I’d be. Making the scary decision to jump from architecture to business/journalism, I thought I would still be struggling to get exposure in the field of journalism. The Colin Powell School helped significantly, not only with advocating for the NBCU Academy Fellowship, but with the amazing staff overseeing it. Professor Nevins-Taylor and Fellowships Director Debbie Cheng are always looking out for us with the incredible workshops and sending internship and scholarship opportunities our way. I always figured I wouldn’t get my first journalism exposure until after graduation, but I have been steadily building my network and have been learning new skills everyday. When I began my career change in 2020 I would have considered myself lucky to have one article published on the school paper, but I am proud to say that I have multiple publications on the HarlemView website and have contributed to multiple pieces with CNBC. I feel confident to say I am a multimedia journalist, and it’s only up from here!
 
What are your plans post graduation?

I’m still debating between grad school or joining the workforce full-time. On the one hand, it is a dream of mine to become the first person in my family to get a master’s degree, but on the other hand, I know from conversations with experienced journalists that a masters degree in journalism is not entirely necessary. I know that there is still much to learn, so I am keeping an open mind.

What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

One of my biggest accomplishments during my time at City College was being a part of the inaugural cohort of NBCU Academy Fellows. It was an incredible honor to be a part of the first group to kick off the fellowship, but also to have been chosen to be a part of it amongst all the applicants. Having focused most of my academic career on architecture, I felt that I was behind where I should be, but being accepted into the fellowship made me feel justified that everything I was doing to catch up was paying off. A career accomplishment I am also proud of, is getting my internship with CNBC en Español. After getting some rejections, it was insane getting the call that I had been chosen to intern with CNBC and the support I got from Professor Nevins-Taylor, Debbie Cheng, Professor Petersen, and even Dean Rich was so heartfelt. I never thought I would be able to say I was an intern with NBC, let alone as my first internship.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I have three main points of advice. First, I’d advise current or future students to make the most out of their time at City College and take advantage of all the available opportunities. When I think about other schools I could’ve transferred to, I know that I would not have had the opportunities that I have now, such as the NBCU Academy, and I would not have had this amazing support system of professors and Colin Powell staff. Next, I’d advise not to be scared to ask questions. It can feel daunting to feel lost and that you don’t have the answers or information you need, but there are staff and mentors available to point you in the right direction. Finally, I would also say to please keep in mind that rarely is anyone’s path linear — just take me for example. It is ok if you are not achieving your goals at the same pace as everyone else. Everyone works differently. In Spanish we say “No hay que llegar primero, pero hay que saber llegar.” You don’t have to get there first, you just have to know how to get there.

How would you describe CPS in three words?

OPPORTUNITY
GROWTH
INSPIRATION
 
 

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