Securing Her Future in Biochemistry: Cynthia Garcia
Bursting with energy and enthusiasm while also seeking security, Cynthia Garcia is an example of a COVID cohort who is at once seeking to embrace all of life’s possibilities while looking for a little stability after several years of upheaval. The joyous Beaufort County Early College High School student will graduate with both an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science through Beaufort County Community College this May. She plans to transfer to a university to earn a degree in biochemistry.
Garcia is set on attending university in the mountains of Virginia or North Carolina, though she has only visited the region once in her youth. She is looking at smaller universities such as Roanoke College and Western Carolina University.
“It just looks so pretty. The college campuses on the mountains, they look so pretty,” she says. She sees how this can seem impulsive, but this drive for novelty is part of her personality.
She laughs and says, “I want to go skydiving. Anything to get the blood flowing. I love it. I need to go this year,” she says pounding her hand onto the table. She also plans to travel and enjoys indoor rock-climbing, zip-lining, and ax-throwing.
It was her tenth-grade science class with Katherine Alligood that catalyzed her love for the sciences. “Looking into the microscope, looking at all the little things, it’s so fun. Whenever I go into a science class, I just feel so happy. Organic chemistry, I took it last semester. It wasn’t that bad,” Garcia says.
Because she excels at chemistry and finds science thrilling, she has focused on biochemistry.
“Chemistry: a lot of math, right? Biology: a lot of reading. You mix it together, and it’s delicious,” she says laughing.
“You’re studying the chemistry of living things, and you’re going to find out things. It’s kind of cool to solve problems like [diseases such as COVID],” she says thinking about potential research she could conduct.
She knows that the fast pace of a hospital does not appeal to her, but lab work would put her around a few, focused people working toward a common project. There is another stability she seeks in the lab.
“After COVID hit, it gave me another reason to go into a field like that because of how many people got laid off at their jobs. I was scared about getting to a job that isn’t stable. If I work in a lab, maybe I won’t get laid off so easily. I saw how many people laid off at Walmart, and everyone said they don’t have any job security now.”
“I want to make sure that I get a good education and get a good job,” she says. “One thing I really want to make sure of is that I’m stable in the future. I’m so scared of not doing well in the future. I’m so scared of it. And that is what’s going to keep me going.”
It’s a sentiment she says she shares with at least a portion of her classmates.
“It probably depends on where you come from or if you see it around you. It’s a very big thing: not having a stable future. Ugh.” She tears up thinking about it.
“Like what happens if I’m not stable in the future and I start struggling. It’s going to happen. Life happens. I want to make sure I get a great job and continue with school. Make something great of myself.”
She works at Hibbett Sports as a manager and at River Vibes and Harvest Church, where she attends.
“I wanted to be a manager because I felt like my work ethic was there,” she says of her position at Hibbett Sports. “It’s not that you deserve to be a manager; you earn the position. I worked hard for it. I’m happy about it. It’s nice to be a manager because you get to set an example of what you expect from everyone.”
“I take my jobs very seriously. I love to work. That runs in the family. My dad is a very hard worker. He’s always working. When I show up to work, I work. I don’t like just punching in. I stay busy. I like taking initiative and getting things done.”
“There’re two sides to me,” she concedes. “Very impulsive and yet still thinking about what if all these things happen?” She agrees that the consequences of jumping out of a plane during skydiving feel less frightening to her than failing in a career.
These tugging forces are not surprising for a person–and a cohort–who has survived a global pandemic and its economic aftershocks. Garcia is determined not to take this life for granted. While laughing and daring, she is also building a career that will help her weather the next upheaval.