Long before Katherine “Kat” Garcia became a student at Cal Poly Pomona, she already saw the campus as a sort of second home.
The ducks gliding across the pond near the residence halls, the Arabian horses grazing in the field and the tasty treats at the Farm Store were all a part of the freshman’s childhood, thanks in large part to her familial ties to campus.
Garcia, a history student, is a second-generation Bronco. Her parents are both Cal Poly Pomona alumni.
“I practically grew up on this campus,” Garcia said. “My mom would take my brother and me to Ikea and McDonald’s, and then we would come here to feed the ducks.”
Garcia, who graduated from Ayala High School in Chino Hills, said she briefly considered going out of state for college but in the end, opted to stick close to home by choosing Cal Poly Pomona. The aspiring teacher chose history as her major because of a high school teacher who made the subject fun.
“The projects he would have us do were very engaging,” Garcia said. “He was animated and passionate, and his stories connected us with what he was teaching. History really is interesting if you teach it right.”
This past summer, she participated in orientation, which gave her a chance to meet some of her classmates and get a glimpse of what college life will be like.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Garcia said. “I feel very welcomed.”
Mom and dad also are excited to see their daughter on the campus they once called home.
“I think it was absolutely phenomenal,” Andrea Worrel (’97, English), said of her own Cal Poly Pomona experience. “I was very lucky because the English department was teeny. I felt like our department was small enough that any time you needed a one-on-one with your professors, you could get it.”
In one of her English courses, Worrel recalled, her professor let her edit a book of personal essays students had written for the class. That was a springboard for her early career in publishing. She now helps to run her husband Jason’s business, Freedom Fire Protection, which specializes in tenant improvements and residential construction for overhead fire sprinkler systems.
“That was the beginning of doing magazine editing and helped me get my first job using my degree,” she said.
Worrel said that while she is excited her daughter is at Cal Poly Pomona, her only wish is for Garcia to find her bliss.
“I just want her to be happy,” Worrel said. “Whatever she picks, I just want her to have a job where she can support herself. At Cal Poly Pomona, that won’t be an issue. She has so many things she can pick from.”
Carl Garcia, who runs his own firm Garcia Design Associates, credits Cal Poly Pomona for providing him with an excellent, well-rounded education and a firm foundation for his career.
“CPP did prepare me for the stress, deadlines and other technically ‘non-academic’ aspects of the real world,” he said.
Garcia said he hopes his daughter grows into the adult she wants to be and forge a life-long connection to the university. Her familiarity with campus from the many trips she made growing up will make it easier for Kat to feel acclimated, he added.
“My wish is for my daughter to have that intellectual and personal growth with the confidence that a CPP education can give and friendships that last a lifetime,” said Garcia (’98, landscape architecture). “I know that with the education and reputation of Cal Poly Pomona, she will be prepared for a career, but more importantly, it is the life-experience that will shape much of who she will be later.”