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Student finds success at ASU with help of transfer program

family group photo in backyard
April 07, 2015

Since grade school, Phoenix native Martine Garcia Jr. remembers his parents always trying to instill in him a respect for education.

“You better not come home with a ‘C,’” Garcia said he recalls his father saying. Not because he was strict or hard to please, but because of how he came to discover the value of higher education: through a lack of it.

Garcia’s father is the top driver at a company he’s been with for more than 10 years, and his mother is a successful medical collector.

“They struggled to get where they’re at today,” said Garcia. “But they both know that if they had an education … they could be doing a lot bigger things. That’s why they always told me school is really important.”

Despite his parents’ words, the value of education was something Garcia had to find out for himself. He graduated high school with a low GPA and no scholarship prospects.

“It was kinda like, ‘I’m going to college, but if it doesn’t happen, then I’ll figure something out,’” said Garcia of that point of time in his life.

Then, while working as a detailer at Toyota the summer after his senior year of high school, it hit him: “This is not what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he said.

“I saw a lot of people that had worked there for 15, 20 years,” still making the same amount of money, he said, “and I thought, ‘I want to make good money and I want to enjoy my job’ … That was the turning point.”

On the advice of his older cousin, Garcia enrolled at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC), sometimes working up to four jobs to cover the cost of books and tuition. He applied himself and sought the advice of a career adviser, who told him about Arizona State University’s transfer pathways program, an award-winning initiative that guides students through the process of transferring from a community college to the university, step-by-step.

By the time he was ready to transfer to ASU, Garcia had significantly raised his GPA and was awarded the Transfer Achievement Award, which covered nearly half of his tuition costs. He was also the recipient of a $1,000 private scholarship and a Pell Grant.

“I’m glad to say I don’t have to work four jobs anymore, because my whole tuition is paid,” he said.

Garcia decided to major in communications, with the intention of becoming a motivational speaker.

“[The transfer pathways program] was the greatest thing I could ever imagine,” he said. It locked my tuition rate in, it set me up so that right when I graduated from my community college, I was already done with my freshman and sophomore year at ASU, so I didn’t have to back track and make up any classes. It was like I did my first two years [at ASU].”

With the stated purpose to “create a culture of transfer,” ASU and community colleges throughout the state have partnered to create a transfer process that is clear and seamless, to improve transfer student success.

Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program, or MAPP (which is the program Garcia used), is the program specific to students transferring from Maricopa Community Colleges, while Transfer Admission Guarantee, or TAG, is the program for students transferring from other community colleges throughout the state.

The Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) program encompasses both MAPP and TAG. The GPS program has benefits for all parties involved: It helps the community colleges with their degree completion initiatives because the pathways build in a completed associate’s degree. It helps the university because the program incents students to come academically prepared for success in their major and thus students are more likely to persist to bachelor’s degree completion.

Using the programs, students can track their progress online through ASU eAdvisor, and even search careers based on their interests to find out which courses they would need to take and what their projected salary would be.

When Garcia’s parents learned of his acceptance to ASU, “they cried,” Garcia said, and he laughs. “Yeah, my dad doesn’t cry … And we have the same exact name, Martine Anthony Garcia, so every time I see him, he’s like, ‘When are you getting my degree?’”

Garcia is set to graduate in May 2016. He’s also working at CGCC as a student ambassador coordinator, helping with recruiting as well as coordinating student orientations, and has an internship with a social media marketing company.