Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Nichole Garcia
As a junior faculty member at the GSE, Dr. Nichole Garcia focuses primarily on her research, her students, and serving her community. Garcia’s research focuses on Latinx/a/o community and on underrepresented populations regarding access to resources needed to achieve success in higher education. Specifically, she is concerned with comparative studies of Chicana/o and Puerto Rican college-educated families to advance narratives of intergenerational achievement and college readiness. Through her research, Garcia has found that, “If you have a college educated parent, you are more than likely to get a degree and to continue your education beyond that. But the research supporting that claim is color-mute. It’s referring to white student populations, and my research is looking at people of color. I found with Chicana/o and Puerto Rican college-educated families, the path to attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher degree is not linear, it is complex and nuanced based on systems of power and domination.” Her research ties in with the GSE’s commitment to Advancing Excellence and Equity in Education as she moves to understand and unpack the inequities, lack of resources, and current body of research surrounding people of color’s experiences in higher education, as well as propel her own research specifically highlighting the Latino community forward.
Besides her research, Garcia enjoys spending time educating and mentoring students and tries to be a support system for those who need guidance through the world of higher education. Garcia is described by most of her students and mentees as a “tough lover”, and she takes her work as a teacher and a mentor very seriously. One of the most important things for students to have access to while pursuing a higher education, according to Garcia, is a network of faculty, staff, and other students who truly care about their success. This belief is what motivates her to act as a mentor and guide for so many of her students not only at Rutgers, but at other institutions she has worked for in the past.
Another resource that Garcia mentioned as being instrumental in student’s success is being educated on financial literacy— how to apply for loans, how to get scholarships, how to make a personal budget. “Having equal access to high-quality financial literacy assistance is huge for students— especially those that are the first in their family to navigate the world of higher education. We need to make sure we are not only setting up our students for success in the classroom, but in their personal lives as well, and a big part of that is handling finances in the years after graduating college” remarked Garcia.
In the brief time that she has been with the GSE, Garcia is already making connections and getting involved in the Rutgers community. She is involved with the Tyler Clementi Center which looks to leverage academic research towards the creation of relevant tools and resources for higher education professionals. Garcia is excited to see what kinds of resources, experience, and insight she can offer to the Tyler Clementi Center as well as other programs at Rutgers such as the EOF program and the Latino and Caribbean Studies program. In the future, Garcia wants to take advantage of the community that is surrounding Rutgers and ensure that she has the opportunity to serve the local community.
Garcia’s passion and commitment to her research and her students is evident in the work that she does each day. In her spare time, Garcia is a blogger for Diverse Issues in Higher Education and was even featured in a podcast on the Dr. Will Show because of her blogs! When she is not blogging, teaching, or doing work for the university, she enjoys running and staying active. Garcia expressed how fortunate she feels to have the opportunity to come to a place where diversity, equity, and social justice in the education field is held to such a high standard. She feels that a big part of her job at Rutgers is to extend the work that has already been done at the GSE in order to achieve its mission of Advancing Excellence and Equity in Education.