Dr. Rachel Garcia selected as Minnie Piper nominee
12.21.2016 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur
PASADENA, Texas – Dr. Rachel Garcia once defied the odds to find success in her science career, and she “accepts the challenge” to help others do so as well.
For this tenacity, Garcia is this year’s Minnie Stevens Piper nominee and Faculty Excellence Award recipient for San Jacinto College.
“I vividly recall my experiences in college where I had to navigate my path on my own,” said Garcia. “Many students attend college part time due to family and work obligations. I share with them my story, and I personally accept the challenge of removing all looks of defeat in the classroom whenever I am discussing a difficult topic. I have been in their shoes and encourage them to never give up.”
When it came time to think about college, Garcia chose chemistry, a traditionally male-dominated career field. At first, Garcia struggled some with her college courses, worked part time, and commuted 60 miles a day to get to college. Her experiences later shaped her advocacy for students.
“Rachel advocates for our students in and out of the classroom,” said Dr. Ann Cartwright, chemistry professor and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) coordinator at San Jacinto College. “She is both respected and appreciated by her colleagues for her work as an instructor and a department chair. We have a strong faculty body, and her persistent contributions and positive attitude mark her as an outstanding example of exhibiting the College values and fulfilling the mission of student success.”
Each year, Garcia submits a report on science outreach and receives a grant from the Greater Houston Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) to purchase supplies for chemistry demonstrations. The ACS has also awarded her a grant to fund a STEM Expo for young children. She also presents to sixth grade girls at the Expanding Your Horizons conference each year, and this past October, she organized a chemistry conference to address the cost of textbooks and other instructional resources. In February 2017, she will present on an intervention initiative to help lower student withdrawals at the Texas Community College Teachers Association Conference.
Before becoming a department chair at San Jacinto College, Garcia served as a professor of chemistry. She represents the College at the Greater Houston Partnership, the League for Innovation STEMtech Conference and the Hispanic Alliance of Colleges and Universities. She also serves on the San Jacinto College STEM Council.
Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from Houston Baptist University and doctorate degree in inorganic analytical chemistry from the University of Houston. Her career has taken her across the world to study electron donor acceptor compounds in Osaka, Japan. She has been invited to serve on a national grant review panel in Washington, D.C.
“I often hear from students that they never ‘got’ chemistry in high school,” said Garcia. “I take those statements to heart and accept the challenge of getting the students to love chemistry as much as I do.”
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, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 finalist and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 30,000 students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers seven areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to a four-year college or university or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.