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Viola M. Garcia, Assistant Professor
College of Public Service
I had always felt that I’d been lucky in life, so I used to attribute my success to getting out of poverty to being in the right place at the right time. I’ve long since realized that "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)
Three influences helped prepare me for success.
The important things for me are that I had an opportunity to go to college, and to take advantage of the many opportunities for which I prepared. These have included a first job in a Head Start program the summer after high school graduation, which inspired me to become a teacher. I completed a two-year internship in a Teacher Corps program in my junior and senior years in college. Both of these “lucky” opportunities occurred because I had good grades and did well in school, but I also knew that these jobs provided the financial support we desperately needed for me to finish college. Later opportunities proved that being prepared is essential to be “lucky.” Having started my Master’s degree as soon as I began teaching, I was selected for an administrative internship in my third year, which lead me to become the principal of an elementary school. I jumped at the chance to teach at UHD when the opportunity presented itself and there have been so many other “chances” in life that I’ve not hesitated to pursue because I felt prepared to do the work.
I think that several things have always motivated me. One is to honor my mother’s sacrifices and confidence in me. I don’t think I can ever repay her. Another is a curiosity for learning. I’ve pursued many professional and service opportunities because of this curiosity and have not regretted a one. I’ve learned to be prepared when the opportunity to “step up” presents itself. Another thing that has motivated me is the pursuit of a purpose for my life. Although I’m quite satisfied with what I have accomplished so far, there is always a nagging feeling that I’ve not yet done what I was set out to do in life, and so the pursuit continues. All I know is that it is best to be prepared. I’ve had too many wonderful opportunities to mention, but through them all, I have learned that because we do not know when an opportunity will present itself, we need to be ready and prepared so that when it does arrive, we are ready to take it, embrace it, and feel as lucky as we can be about it.
I encourage you to have confidence in yourself, based on all that you have done to get where you are, and to continue your hard work as you prepare yourself to successfully meet the opportunities that will present themselves to you. Best wishes for success as you pursue the opportunities that a college degree will provide.
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Last updated or reviewed on 9/13/10