Student Spotlight

Alumni Q & A: Tony Garcia wanted glamour but discovered helping others is more rewarding

Tony Garcia

Tony Garcia strikes a dramatic pose for his graduation in 2017. He's currently working on a master's in psychology with a marriage and family therapy emphasis.

Tony Garcia wanted a life in entertainment. Instead of glamour, he found a dead-end job in film and TV production with little future.

He began seeing a therapist who changed the course of his life and career. Through therapy, Garcia realized that he wanted to help others succeed and thrive. He said to himself, “You need to be become a therapist!” 

To pursue this new path, Garcia completed his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2017 at Brandman University and immediately enrolled in the Master of Arts in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy. Garcia hopes to help others by starting his own private practice where he wants to work with individuals, families and couples.

Earlier this year, Garcia started a podcast called “Spread Hope Like Fire.” He discusses mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. He’s written a book with the same name.

How did going back to school help you/your career?

It opened up a lot of different facets of my thinking. It made me realize that I wasn’t stuck. I took time off from work to give myself the drive and dedication to get through school as quick as possible. I knew where I wanted to go.

Who inspired you while attending Brandman? 

My biggest inspiration would be my therapist. He is a big part of my life and has become a mentor to me. As I was going through school, I had some struggles including a death in the family.  My therapist and my academic advisor, Massiel Perez, helped me get though that difficult time.  

Massiel was able to connect me with my professors to get extensions on assignments. She would call me to make sure I was managing school and life. I wouldn’t have passed without her help!  I quickly realized that I picked the right school. No other school would be that compassionate. 

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult? 

That it is never too late. Went back to school at 27 years old. The time is going to go by regardless if you go back to school or not. In four years you could have your degree. The degree will open doors, and you will meet so many people on the journey who will help further your career and life. 

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University? 

Yes, I was surprised by the support that I received. It was beyond being a university. You aren’t just a student with a student number. You are part of the family that Brandman has created. That is something amazing that a lot of schools can’t say. Brandman really cares about its students. 

What would you have done differently? 

I would have gone back to school a lot sooner.  Also, I would have slowed it down a little bit and enjoyed it more. I went through the program too fast. I am really enjoy my master’s program, going at the normal pace. I wish I would have enjoyed the learning process a bit more but I rushed through during my undergrad. 

What motivated you while going back to school?

Wanting to help others and knowing where I wanted to go were big motivators for me. Finally having a plan. I was so lost I thought I would be stuck at a dead end job forever. Finding out I had a new path in life was something that pushed me and motivated me through school. 

Garcia's Spread Hope like Fire podcast can be found on iTunes. His book by the same name is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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