CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
This week is Diverse Identities Week at Whittier College, organized by Diversity Council in collaboration with a few other clubs. The first event for this week was the Farmers Movement Speaker event, held on March 25 at 4:30 p.m. in the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI). It featured Fabian Garcia, a program director of the Forest Service.
Garcia started the talk by speaking on his background and experience with diverse identities. He grew up in the small central California town of Dinuba, where the population is mostly Hispanic or Latinx. Garcia graduated second in his high school class and ended up as a first-generation college student at The University of Southern California Los Angeles (UCLA). The culture shock really affected him. “I grew up in a town that was probably 80–90 percent Latino . . . when I got to UCLA I was like ‘where are they?’” He said he appreciates it, “Going to a big campus like UCLA opened my eyes to diversity out there… My first year, I met someone from India and got to go to a Diwali banquet. . . It opened my eyes to that [culture].”
Garcia started off as an Economics major, but learning about so many other cultures caused him to get more invested in his own; he decided to double major in Economics and Chicano/Chicana Studies. His peer advisor constantly encouraged him to take Chicano/Chicana Studies classes. Garcia looked to him for help as a first-generation college student. His older brother was already at UCLA, but they did not have the guidance of parents who had already been through college.
Because of this, his brother could not tell him how his decisions would pan out in the long run. Because of this, Garcia’s mentor was extremely important. He ended up dropping his Economics major because “at UCLA, [the Economics department] was really consumer-driven. It was like ‘don’t start messing with social function, you gotta make some money:’ and I didnt feel fulfillment within that, but in Chicano/Chicana studies [I did],” said Garcia.
He ended up getting a generation green internship at California State University, Fresno. This led to his job with the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service is a predominantly white male agency, and he is working to make it more diverse. However, not many people consider working for the Forest Service. He wants young people to know that “there’s great careers in biology outside of the medical field.”