2020 Tillman Scholar

John Garcia

Marine Corps
University of Texas - Rio Grande

“I attribute much of my success to those that have advocated for marginalized populations, as their work is what has afforded me access to an education and reinstituted hope in me.”

Born into a home where the father figure committed suicide, John was abandoned by his mother when he was six years old. Lacking the awareness of assistance programs for youth in circumstances that hinder their development, he began to live a life on the streets. As a 15-year-old, he learned about his rights as a U.S. citizen and turned himself into state custody.

Statistics predict stark outcomes for individuals who emancipate from state care. Knowing about these statistics has been one of the driving factors that motivated John to join the military and become a positive example for vulnerable populations. Despite having had a rough start in life, John worked to redirect the course his life was taking.

As an adult, John decided to give back to the community which aided his survival. He became a U.S. Marine, where after a short four years he was medically separated due to injuries he sustained in combat operations in Afghanistan. This discharge displaced his ability to serve in a military setting but it did not deter his passion to serve. John instead fueled an unwavering determination to continue efforts to find a way to give back.

Experiencing the lack of access due to the shortage of healthcare professionals opened John’s eyes to the need for healthcare providers. He is currently training to become a physician assistant, as he understands medical training will allow him to maximize the aid he may provide to populations in need.