At a university as vast as UCF, it is seemingly impossible for students to engage in all the opportunities presented. But Eddiedelso “Eddie” Garcia, a 21 year-old senior pursuing a public administration degree and non-profit management minor, is taking that challenge in stride.

A familiar face on campus, Garcia has been involved in university activities since his freshman year in 2009. He has been part of the President’s Leadership Council (PLC), Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Knight-Thon, SGA and the LEAD Scholars Program. Garcia has also volunteered at Boys Town and Alternative Spring Break in Birmingham, Ala., and believes that community service has helped him grow and impact others. Originally from Queens, NY, he grew up in a different environment than most young people .

“Queens, I feel, made me grow up faster,” he said. “Living in New York, it’s such a different environment than from Florida or Orlando. From such a young age, we’re independent. We’re taking public transportation and my parents were never so worried.”

Garcia is a first-generation college student, who, at first, had trouble finding his place at UCF but always had the desire to help and serve others. This attitude helped him receive the President’s Scholarship and win the Orlando Magic Maker award for community service in the Central Florida area.

“I felt that my parents really sacrificed so much for me to go to school, and academics were what was going to take me far in life. It’s something that my parents didn’t have; so, I felt that it was up to my brother and I to be that beacon of hope for my family to get them out of the supermarket business they have worked in their entire life,” said Garcia.

Garcia’s parents have worked in the convenient store business since they were both teenagers. That profession followed them through their years as becoming adults, and they currently own a Bravo Supermarket in Sanford. Garcia has strived since he was in high school to excel in academics to eventually provide other means financially for his parents and family.

His cousin Adalberto Garcia, a 22-year-old finance major, says that family means everything to Eddie. “We’ve grown up and our main thing is family, and we’ve always stayed close. I guess that’s what he thinks of all his friends and everybody out there—as family.”

Between putting together Beta’s Best Dance Crew and O-Team and participating in Mr. UCF and Homecoming Court, Garcia was also a 2013 Order of Pegasus  recipient, which is the most prestigious honor at UCF that recognizes exemplary performance by an undergraduate and graduate students.

“It’s something that means not only a lot to me but to my family, the people who helped me get here and taught me so much about myself and about life,” he said. “This is really an award not only for me, but for everyone throughout my UCF experience that has helped me get to where I am. It’s for them, too.”

Vince Rossy, a UCF alumnus, said after being Eddie’s mentor for PLC it was clear that Eddie was a different kind of leader.

“He is someone who doesn’t tend to gloat or boast about his positions,” said Rossy. “He is very humble. He’s not someone who celebrates and brags about his achievements. He just kind of lets his achievements speak for themselves, and that’s what I think is a great quality about him.”

Dr. Nancy Marshall, Vice President and Assistant Chief of Staff, has worked closely with Garcia ever since he landed his position as a PLC member. She believes Garcia is a mature person who never settles—he is always stepping up and out to help his peers.

“Everybody likes Eddie, and that’s interesting,” she said. “Because you have some leaders that are successful but maybe people don’t like them, and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like him. He is just good energy and a great guy,”

As graduation approaches, Garcia has made plans for the future, hoping to pursue an acting career. He has found acting is his true passion. Originally, Garcia planned on attending law school for the first three years he was at UCF, until he interned abroad in Australia. After interviewing with professionals in various career fields he was interested in, he realized law was not his true calling.

“I was going to law school for all the wrong reasons,” Garcia said. “I wanted to go because it would save me time and make good money, which I felt I needed because I needed to help my family. That kind of put more pressure on me to just get a degree that would help my family financially. I realized that you can’t be successful doing something you don’t like and going to law school would not have been something I wanted or liked.”

Garcia plans on moving to New York after graduation this spring. He will take acting and the other necessary classes that will help him pursue and find a career in that field. He currently is taking classes locally to prepare himself.

“I can’t believe how fast my time has come up,” said Garcia. “But everything I’ve done, all the lessons I’ve learned and all the memories, I’ll always have them with me no matter where I go. They’ll always hold a special place in my heart. So, no matter if I’m in California, New York or anywhere in the world, UCF is always going to be a part of me.”

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