Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Geography and Sustainability and English Double Major

The year is 2034, and St. Louis, Missouri is a thriving community with better resources for climate movement, community-based outreach, climate communication, ecological health, and environmental awareness. And working right in the middle of all this action is graduating senior Daniel Garcia.

At least, that’s how the Sycamore envisions his future. The senior geography and sustainability and English double major from St. Louis wants someday to give back to his hometown. If he had a crystal ball, Garcia would predict that he’ll serve as a climate communicator and organizer.

“I want to tap into the passion of the city to make my home a place to live – for all,” he says, describing these passions as focused on transportation justice and clean energy. He remarks, “The climate is everything to us – the ground we live on, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. In this way, it’s hard not to be dedicated to environmental work because the climate really is the story of us.”

Because Garcia doesn’t have a time machine into the future, he knows the hard work begins right now, in 2024, as a college senior who is a few weeks away from graduation. Reflecting on his Sycamore experience, Garcia says he knew Indiana State University was the right school for him because of the University’s emphasis on inclusion, career readiness, and robust campus life.

“Indiana State was the right university because it believed in my talents and future like no other institution had,” he explains.

A white male student with short brown hair stands against a wooden railing in front of a garden. He wears a blue long-sleeved shirt with a white sycamore leaf on the front, and grey pants.

The Sycamore appreciates that Indiana State allowed him to pursue two academic programs in differing disciplines. In his geography and sustainability program, Garcia completed a project involving the design of a website with maps and other research showing the effects of highway construction in St. Louis. He says, “The project allowed me to marry my passions for environmental justice with mapping, a medium I never thought I would have in my toolkit.”

Similarly, Garcia learned more about himself and his culture through his English program. In an American literature course, he participated in engaging conversations about classic works of literature while understanding the deeper contexts that could be applied to multiple cultures.

“I feel like those who really wanted something out of English classes walked away with an abundance of knowledge, know-how, and insight. Some of the context provided thought-provoking jumping-off points for us (the students) to develop our thoughts, making them our own,” he explains.

Garcia credits his professors for mentoring him over the past four years.

“My professors took something I’ve mentioned in class and used it to strike up conversations outside of class. The professors are extremely passionate about their subject area, and if you, as a student, are able to tap into that same passion, the opportunities for collaboration, relationship building, and learning are endless.”

For example, Garcia collaborated with Associate Professor of English Brendan Corcoran, PhD, in the Department of English. Corcoran helped Garcia apply for internships and understand his career goals. The professor expresses high regard for his student.

“Daniel is clearly a superb student, but what takes his academic prowess to another level is a profound curiosity about the world. This means that not only is he able to truly open himself to new texts, concepts, information, and experiences, but he engages the world with a powerful humility born of confidence and a moving capacity for caring,” Corcoran comments.

A white male student with short brown hair poses with his arms crossed in front of a white fence. He wears a blue long-sleeved shirt with a white sycamore leaf on the front. A wooden table is visible in front of him. Trees are visible in the background.

Garcia, also a member of Indiana State’s Honors College and a President’s Scholar, enjoys the unique opportunities Indiana State provides outside of the classroom. For example, the Sycamore spent a semester studying abroad in Berlin, where he met new friends and finished classes for a German Language Studies minor.

“College is all about flexibility and learning how to come into adulthood. The more experiences you can get under your belt in college, the more prepared you will be for whatever comes after, whether that be more school, a job, or something else,” Garcia says.

Academic support and success like this helped Garcia become a Hines Memorial Medal recipient for the 2024 graduating class. The medal is awarded to students who entered Indiana State as a first-time college freshman and completed their bachelor’s degrees with the highest cumulative grade point average. Garcia also was selected as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2024-25 academic year, and he will return to Germany to teach English in the northern region of Schleswig-Holstein. He hopes this experience will help him discover new passions and propel him into the next chapter of his life, he says.

Garcia’s educational journey has brought him even more opportunities, including exciting internships. For one summer, he served as the Eco-Act intern in the Education Department at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. The program required Garcia to educate high school students on sustainability engagement and environmental issues. During the internship, the Sycamore created an environmental curriculum, trainings, and materials for more than 30 students.

“I learned a great deal about climate education, climate communication, and how to engage different demographics on the topics of climate change and environmental justice,” says Garcia. “This internship also gave me the space to consider the role education could play in my future career. I learned different classroom management and engagement strategies and was able to refine my ability to create lesson plans and modify educational materials on the spot. I had never given much thought to a career in education, but over the course of the internship, I found myself increasingly excited to use education to further social and environmental progress.” A white male student with short brown hair kneels in a garden with an assortment of greenery surrounding him. He wears a blue long-sleeved shirt with a white sycamore leaf on the front.

His newfound interest in education was further enhanced as a campus fellow for the Rachel Carson Council, an environmental non-profit organization that continues the legacy of marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson. In this fellowship, Garcia proposed a new green space on Indiana State’s campus where the Lincoln Quad formerly stood. He conceptualized and mapped out the green space that would offer a new recreational area for Sycamores.

“The fellowship gave me a great network of environmental leaders who I can lean on and get ideas from. It also showed me the importance of flexibility in my career,” says Garcia. Ultimately, the green space could not be created, but through the process, the Sycamore learned more about tackling challenges and adapting to change, he says.

Garcia’s passion for sustainability is noticed on Indiana State’s campus. During his undergraduate education, he worked as an outreach coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. He helped organize events, campaigns, and programs to enhance sustainability on campus. For example, Garcia assisted with Green Jobs Day through Indiana State’s Career Center; Zero Emissions Day; and with groups including the Student Sustainability Coalition. Also the president of Students for Sustainability, Garcia encourages other students to focus on sustainable agriculture, environmental justice, and campus engagement through fun events, including trips to Turkey Run State Park.

A white male student with short brown hair stands in a garden with a large green sign reading "ISU FOOD FOREST" to his left. He wears a blue long-sleeved shirt with a white sycamore leaf on the front, and grey pants.

“Something I learned early on is that Indiana State truly has a wealth of opportunities for those who choose to challenge themselves and put themselves out there. I think Indiana State strikes a perfect balance between the day-to-day and the big picture. My professors offered great resources for success in the classroom while campus services, like the Career Center, helped me develop my professional image to set me up for success in the future,” Garcia expresses.

He adds, “My Sycamore experience has been just that — enjoying the present while preparing for the future.”

Garcia knows he is well-prepared for whatever happens after he receives his diploma. Perhaps what he sees in his hypothetical crystal ball isn’t a dream but rather a preview of what’s to come – and Garcia is more than ready for that adventure!