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Jazmine Garcia - The Journey of Being A Student-Athlete To A Member of Faculty at OLLU

Jazmine Garcia - The Journey of Being A Student-Athlete To A Member of Faculty at OLLU

SPECIAL FEATURE (June 6, 2024) – There have been so many outstanding student-athletes at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) since launching the athletics program in 2007. Many have had huge successes while at OLLU and went on to have successful careers. One in particular is Jazmine Garcia, who ran cross-country (2014-2017) and track and field (2015-2018). Now, she is a full-time visiting professor/lecturer of Criminal Justice at OLLU.

In 2014, then-OLLU Women's Cross-Country Head Coach Stephen Sherman began the season with much optimism after winning the team's first-ever Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Championship in 2013. Sherman may or may not have predicted how much success his team would enjoy from 2014 to 2018, the seasons Jazmine Garcia ran for the Saints. He said back in 2014, "Zapata (Texas) has produced several quality runners over the years, and Jazmine is of that same mold. She is as strong in the classroom as she is on the course. We look forward to getting her into an OLLU singlet."

After the Saints finished second in Garcia's first cross-country season, she anchored the team from 2015-2017 to three consecutive RRAC Championship titles and three trips to the NAIA National Championships. In her first year, she finished eighth, but it was good enough to qualify her for nationals as an individual. Her track team from 2018 also captured the RRAC Championship title.

Garcia won the RRAC Individual Medal and received Runner of the Year three years in a row. Her award-winning times in the conference's 5000m in 2015 was 18:48, in 2016, 18:39 – an OLLU record at conference that still stands today – and in 2017, 19:59.

Garcia also won several nonconference meets. She became the first student-athlete to win a meet in team history when she captured the individual medal at the Alamo City Opener sponsored by Trinity University in August 2014. In the 4000m, her time was 15:22 – the best out of 42 runners. In September 2014, she also guided the team to its first win in team history. At the Bill Libby Invitational sponsored by McMurry University, Garcia finished first in the 5000m at 19:21.23. Garcia guided the team to a first-place finish at the UIW Invitational in 2016 and the Saints Invitational in 2017.

She also had much success on the track and field team. She, along with Annie Trejo, Amanda Esparza and Andrea Gandara, hold the OLLU indoor record in the DMR at 12:56.70, which they set at the Gorilla Classic in 2018. In outdoor, she has the third, fourth and fifth all-time records in the 3000m, the third all-time record in the 5000m and the third all-time record in the 10,000m. She received All-Conference in the 3000m/5000m in 2016, the 1500m/3000m/5000m/10,000m in 2017 and the 800m/1500m/3000m/5000m/10,000m in 2018.

Her awards during her tenure at OLLU include Cross-Country All-Conference in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. She received 12 RRAC Runner of the Week awards (one was for track). Garcia excelled in the classroom, earning RRAC Scholar-Athlete in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. She was named her cross-country team's Champions of Character for the conference in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Lastly, she was her cross-country team's Top Saint in 2017 and 2018.

After hanging up her running cleats in 2018 and graduating in the spring, Garcia entered a master's program in Criminal Justice at Lamar University. She graduated in December 2019 and joined the San Antonio Police Department's Missing Person Unit as an agent. A year later, she became the unit's supervisor. While working there, she also had a second job at Bootbarn.

Her next stop was pursuing a doctorate at Liberty University beginning in 2020. She maintains a 3.7 GPA and projects to be finished by December 2024.

Garcia returned to OLLU in 2021 through May 2023 as an assistant cross-country and track and field coach. All three men's and women's cross-country teams won the conference title during her tenure. The track men won the conference title in 2021 and 2023.

In August of 2023, Garcia became a part-time professor at OLLU, and in January of this year, she became a full-time visiting professor.

When asked what her most significant source of pride has been, Garcia said, "I am most proud of my four-time all-conference awards; however, being a professor and my students are such a joy. I can relate to them in many ways due to my background with OLLU and other experiences. I keep an open mind with the students and understand their strengths and weaknesses to guide them with any future decisions."

Having had great success at such an early age, Garcia credits her students. "My greatest cheerleaders are my students! I am an open book with them about my educational and career goals. I give a shout-out to members of the cross-country and track teams, who stop by my office or drop a text to wish me luck or message me for words of encouragement. I also treasure the members of the Criminal Justice Society, such as Alexis Moreno, Anna Davila, Rylie Ruiz, Sebastian Gonzalez, and so many more."

From her time as a student-athlete, Garcia's family would rarely miss any of her competitions. They have stuck by her through all of her life's milestones. "I have so many friends and family to thank; however, I would like to place the spotlight on three main people. I give credit to my Mom (Ester Sanchez), Papi (Eloy Arambula) and boyfriend (Michael Cantu) for all of my successes, both professionally and personally. To Ma and Papi, I thank them for their unconditional love and support and for being so understanding through this journey because I know I haven't always made it easy. It is clear to me that I could not have made it without their hard-earned financial assistance, inspirational advice and continuous care. To Michael, I am glad we both went through a doctoral program together, even though we are in two very different disciplines. A partner who understands your worth and aspirations goes a long way toward a happy and successful life. As a team, we have seen the gains and losses of achieving our dreams, and we are grateful to those who have stuck by us."

OLLU prepares graduates to transform their communities, families and professions based on faith, wisdom and trust in Providence. Jazmine Garcia is just one of many student-athletes who fit the mold of what being a "Saint" is all about. OLLU graduates are prepared for purposeful lives and service to humanity, and we congratulate Jazmine Garcia on her life's achievements!