San Jacinto College graduate excels at national Hispanic College Quiz Show
11.05.2014 | By Rob Vanya
From left, San Jacinto College grant project coordinator Ludith Gonzalez, Dr. Allatia Harris, San Jacinto College vice chancellor of strategic initiatives, and San Jacinto College graduate Danira Garcia display a Hispanic Heritage Month banner. Garcia was a first-place winner as a contestant on the Hispanic College Quiz Show, which was held recently in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
San Jacinto College graduate Danira Garcia recently learned she was a first-place winner as a contestant on the Hispanic College Quiz Show, which was held in Chicago and was televised nationally during Hispanic Heritage Month.
As a first-place winner, Garcia received a $3,000 scholarship. She 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. She now attends the University of Houston, majoring in accounting.
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 included 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. Results of the quiz show were announced when the show aired on TV mid-October.
The subject matter of the quiz show was 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.
Ludith Gonzalez, a grant project coordinator for San Jacinto College, accompanied Garcia to Chicago, serving as Garcia’s chaperone and coach for the quiz show. Gonzalez says Garcia demonstrates how success can be achieved through hard work and diligence. “She is only 18 years old, and she is already a junior at a university, and a first-place winner in a quiz show that was shown on national television,” Gonzalez commented. “She is the first in her family to attend college. Her parents did not have many educational opportunities; they sacrificed so she could, and they are hoping their daughter will apply herself and take advantage of her opportunities. Danira has wisdom and maturity beyond her years. She is like a runner in a relay race. She will not drop the baton. She plans to complete her college education and have a successful career. She is a role model for Latino young people, and really to all young people.”
Garcia said preparing for the show gave her a greater understanding of the rich history of Latinos. “It made me proud of our Latino heritage,” she remarked. “Latinos in the past were strong people who stood up for their beliefs and overcame hardships. It inspires me to keep going in spite of hardships. It also inspires me to take advantages of opportunities I have today – opportunities they never had. I don’t want my heritage to be forgotten.”
Dr. Allatia Harris, San Jacinto College vice chancellor of strategic initiatives, workforce development, community relations, and diversity, said it’s important for young people of all ethnic backgrounds to learn about their heritage. “America has always made progress by being aware of our history,” she commented. “As the nation’s demographics change, more histories become a part of our shared American history. And that’s how we will remain great. When we embrace who we are and how we arrived at where we are today, then we can move forward to tomorrow with confidence, intention, and with a sense of empowerment.”
With 46.5 percent of the San Jacinto College 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 approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are 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.