San Jacinto College graduate to appear on national Hispanic College Quiz Show

09.04.2014 | By Rob Vanya

San Jacinto College graduate Danira Garcia, left, and Ludith Gonzalez recently returned from Chicago, where Garcia appeared as a contestant on the Hispanic College Quiz Show. Gonzalez, a grant project coordinator for the College, served as Garcia’s coach and chaperone. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.

 

The national spotlight will shine on San Jacinto College when recent graduate Danira Garcia appears as a contestant on the Hispanic College Quiz Show, which will be televised nationally sometime during Hispanic Heritage Month (mid-September through mid-October).

The quiz show will be broadcast in the Houston area on two dates – Sunday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 19 – on station KTXH, Channel 20. The 30-minute program will be aired on Oct. 12 at noon, and also at 12:30 p.m. The program will be aired on Oct. 19 at noon, and also at 12:30 p.m. The segment that includes Garcia could be broadcast during any one of the four time slots. 

Meanwhile, Garcia fondly recalls the recent whirlwind trip to Chicago for the taping of the quiz show. She was able to mix business with pleasure, visiting popular sites like the Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, and Millennium Park.

“I enjoyed making new friends from around the country, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” commented Garcia, who graduated as a dual-credit student from San Jacinto College in May, earning an associate degree in general studies concurrently with her high school diploma from C.E. King High School. “But once it was time for the quiz show, it was strictly business.”

Ludith Gonzalez, a grant project coordinator for San Jacinto College, who acted as her chaperone and coach for the quiz show, accompanied the teen. Gonzalez applied for an appearance on the Hispanic College Quiz Show as a way of showcasing San Jacinto College to a national Latino audience. “Danira sailed through the application process, and I just knew she would do well as a contestant,” commented Gonzalez. “She knows first-hand about obstacles faced by Latinos, and she has wisdom and maturity beyond her years. She studied and studied, I mean right up until the time the plane landed in Chicago.”

The subject matter of the quiz show is Latino history and culture, and contestants were provided a 112-page “encyclopedia” to prepare in three weeks. The book includes 31 categories, such as sports, film, music, Spanglish, popular culture, and Latino history from 1400 to the present, including everything from the Alamo to Tejanos. “When the taping of the show was about to start in the studio, my mind just went blank,” Garcia said. “I think I was suffering from information overload. But Ludith is such a good coach. She snapped me out of it and got me on track. The competition was intense and sort of nerve-racking.”

Garcia was asked questions such as “Who was the first Hispanic female astronaut?” “In what TV show did Wilmer Valderrama appear?” “Who was the Latino farm worker who fought for equality during the LBJ administration?” and “What was the first state to elect a Latino to Congress?”

Students from 60 colleges and universities from around the nation applied to appear on the quiz show, and Garcia was one of only 12 who were selected as contestants. In addition to San Jacinto College, participating schools include Carlos Albizu University, Colorado State University, Hudson County Community College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York City College of Technology, South Mountain Community College, St. Edward’s University, St. Philip’s College, the University of St. Francis, the University of the Pacific, and the University of California, Riverside.

Contestants from the 12 colleges competed in four groups, each group containing three students. Garcia competed against a student from South Mountain Community College, and a student from the University of the Pacific.

The results of the quiz show will be announced when the show airs on TV. The series will consist of four half-hour quiz shows that will be broadcast on English-language stations across the nation. Regardless of how she places, Garcia will be a winner. The first place winner receives a $3,000 scholarship, the second place winner receives a $1,000 scholarship, and the third place winner receives a $500 scholarship.

Participating in the show gave Garcia a greater appreciation for her Hispanic heritage. “It was eye-opening for me,” she remarked. “I knew Latinos have experienced hardships and trials through history, fighting for voting rights and civil rights, but I had no idea of the depth of the difficulties.”

Garcia knows personally about difficulties and trials. She spent her early childhood with her grandmother in Honduras, one of the poorest nations in the world, while her parents were in America, saving money that would eventually enable their daughter to live with them. “I remember how hard life was in Honduras,” Garcia recalled. “I remember watching as men robbed my grandmother. They grabbed her purse and snatched all of her belongings as a little girl looked on. It seems there was poverty and crime everywhere.”

She moved to America when she was 7. “What a contrast,” she commented. “In Honduras I walked along dirt roads to school. In America, a bus came to pick me up at my front door to take me to school. My parents value education, but never had opportunities. I understood why they sacrificed so much – so their children could grow up in America and have opportunities they never had.”

When Garcia graduated from San Jacinto College in May, she transferred to the University of Houston. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and to start a career as a certified public accountant.

With 46.5 percent of San Jacinto College’s student body being of Hispanic or Latino origin, and being a Hispanic Serving Institution, the College is proactive in promoting Hispanic/Latino student success. This year, “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” ranked San Jacinto College fourth in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in business; eighth in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in allied health/diagnostic, intervention, and treatment; and 23rd in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in registered nursing, nursing administration, research, and clinical nursing.

 

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook.