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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

EWU student graduating Saturday as a mom credits support programs for her ability to stay in school

Emily Garcia is a recent Eastern Washington University graduate who majored in child life, a specialty that prepares her to work in hospital and clinical settings and focus on children dealing with health problems.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Alexandria Osborne The Spokesman-Review

Emily Garcia attended her first day of classes at Eastern Washington University in 2019 as a first-generation student, not realizing five years later she would graduate with a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter by her side.

Garcia, who is majoring in child life, was involved with the Kappa Delta Chi sorority on campus for her first couple of years at EWU.

But when she got pregnant her sophomore year, she was not sure if she was going to finish college. She received an early alum status with the sorority, which means she was able to leave the sorority without graduating but is still in communication with the organization.

“It’s been really cool, them involving my daughter,” Garcia said. “Now she’s going to be a little legacy, too, which is super awesome.”

Garcia said she brought her daughter to class because she could not afford child care, which made paying attention difficult because she had to keep her eyes on her daughter.

But she received a scholarship through the Helping Ourselves Means Education program at EWU and received $600 every quarter for child care resources.

HOME is a program that helps student parents connect with and receive resources on campus so they can continue their education and achieve their goals.

“I got the scholarship, which was super nice because I had her close by on campus with me, but I could actually focus on classes,” Garcia said. “That was really helpful.”

Garcia said she decided to pursue a degree in child life her junior year after a friend graduated from the same program.

But a huge factor in her degree decision was her little sister, Pricila, who died from cancer at 5 years old, she said. Since then, Garcia has volunteered at hospitals, contributed to fundraisers and created her own fundraiser in honor of her sister.

Because of her sister, Garcia knows and understands the value life holds and how fast it can change.

Another of Garcia’s sisters, TyRae Tisdale, said growing up, Garcia followed her and their oldest sister around and wanted to be like them. Now it is flipped, and Tisdale looks at Garcia as an inspiration.

Tisdale and another one of her siblings furthered their education through a trade school, but Garcia is the only one out of the five siblings to have gone to a university. Tisdale said Garcia has gained a lot of independence since starting at EWU despite facing obstacles.

“She’s understood that the challenges are always going to come, but as long as you have people in your corner and know that you’ve got this and there’s someone behind you when you need it, you can get through anything,” Tisdale said. “She deserves all of the praise.”

Tisdale said it is weird watching Garcia become a parent.

“I think it would be different if I was the younger sister, but seeing her be a parent as an older sister, it’s kind of cool,” Tisdale said.

Garcia attended Wenatchee Valley Community College in high school through the Running Start program, and while Tisdale could not attend her graduation ceremony back then, she will be able to make it to the ceremony this weekend.

“She’s the first person in our family to graduate college, so I’ve never been to a college graduation,” Tisdale said. “I’m so excited to be there for her and celebrate this moment with her. It’s a big moment to be there for, and she’s worked so hard to get here.”

Garcia graduates on Saturday at the Podium and plans to take a gap year before pursing her master’s degree in child life.