Meet our Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas alum, Cecilia Garza. Cecilia graduated from Ages Scott College in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She currently works in a medical lab for the Dallas Skin Care Center as a histotechnician and patient coordinator. Garza was also both the Southwest Regional and Texas Youth of the Year winner in 2014, winning over $25,000 in scholarships for college. Cecilia Garza is surely one of our great success stories and we are truly proud of all that she’s accomplished thus far.
Garza’s journey with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas began at her school, Uplift Williams Preparatory, a college preparatory school and nontraditional site for after-school Club programming. After noticing that Cecilia and her siblings would often stay late after school and wait on their mother to arrive, a teacher suggested that they enroll in the Uplift Williams Boys & Girls Club site hosted in their campus cafeteria. Cecilia and her siblings eventually began participating in Club programs such as Keystone Club, SMART Girls, and Collegiate STEPS.
When asked about her experience in some of the Club’s teen programming, Garza explained, “SMART girls help me learn how to navigate hard conversations, not just with puberty and growing up, but with learning how to assert myself as a young woman.”
“My school had a built-in road to college,” said Garza. “Collegiate STEPS took me above and beyond by actually hooking me up with mentors and doing more SAT prep than I was already doing in school.”
Cecilia continued explaining that the college readiness program Collegiate STEPS not only helped her with finding scholarship money for college but also helped her with budgeting for college.
“It was really individualized help that I received and a lot of encouragement. It became more of a reality for me”, explained Garza. “Neither one of my parents graduated from college, so I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I probably wouldn’t have been able to go if it weren’t for Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas.”
Garza then explained how Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas helped her family in addition to the college help. Cecilia explained that during her time at the Club her family was struggling financially.
“They used to let us take the food home after Collegiate STEPS because we were going through a rough patch at that time. It helped us when we faced food insecurity.”
She then mentioned several mentors who helped her through her journey with the Club and on to college. “If it was not for Ms. Lilly, I probably wouldn’t have won Youth of the Year. She encouraged me to be vulnerable and share how Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas has helped me. Ms. Cherri Rowe helped with that as well.”
Cecilia then began to reflect on winning Youth of the Year and how much Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas has supported her and her family.
“Winning Youth of The Year is one of the highest honors you can achieve at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. To earn it is such an honor because it’s recognizing how you’ve given back to the Club and highlighting how the Club has helped you. It was really one of the most enriching heartfelt experiences that I’ve ever had.”