Meet Edmund Garcia, military veteran, pastor, family man and first-generation college student at ACU Online. After serving his congregation in Pearland, Texas, for 12 years, Garcia realized he needed more than experience to provide counsel to his church members; he needed a degree. With the help of ACU’s undergraduate programs, he has not only gained the skills and knowledge needed to support his congregation, but created a clearer vision for his dreams.
Cultivating A Career
After serving in the military for four years, Garcia became a pastor leading The Church of Greater Works, where he has preached and volunteered his time for the past 12 years. As a pastor, Garcia received numerous requests for counseling but didn’t feel properly equipped to help. After encouragement from his wife, Iris, a fellow ACU online student, he enrolled in a degree program to expand his skills and further his career aspirations.
“My wife raved about ACU’s curriculum and staff,” said Garcia. “She urged me to utilize the gifts God gave me and add to them by pursuing a bachelor’s degree.”
In today’s competitive climate, the lack of a degree disqualifies job-seekers for a variety of positions in the workplace. Garcia learned this early in his career. “I know by getting this degree it will open doors that have previously been closed for me,” he said. “The only limits you truly have are the ones you put on yourself.”
With that mindset, he pursued a degree in Integrated Studies with fields of study in psychology and criminal justice.
As an ACU student, Garcia has been able to utilize the technologies provided to him to contact other students and connect with the ACU community. With staff readily available to answer questions and give feedback, he has learned tangible ways to use his passions to make a difference in the lives of others and listen intently to what they need.
Navigating the spiritual and scientific aspects of counseling is always a challenge. ACU enabled Garcia to not only learn the foundations of helping others, but opened his eyes to the psychological and medical attention that his church members need.
“I can barely put into words how much ACU has given and taught me,” he reflected. “The teachers have been so open to explaining things when I haven’t understood them, and they showed me how to look at things from different perspectives.”
Learning the intricacies of the mental health industry has given him the confidence to continue ministering to his community while also extending a new level of care.
Leaving a Legacy
Garcia’s aspirations don’t just end with his career. His hope is to leave a legacy for his family and inspire them to push forward rather than to settle in life. “I’m doing the best I can to set a good example for my children,” he said. While he’s excited to see where his degree will lead him, he ultimately wants to show what he calls his first ministry (his family), that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to do. “I want my kids to understand they can serve others through whatever capacity the Lord chooses for them.”
In the coming years, Garcia plans to earn his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy as a way to give back to his church and the veteran community. After being in military combat, Garcia struggled with PTSD and feels called to serve those who are facing the same plight.
“I am a living embodiment that you can be rehabilitated and combine Christian counseling with secular counseling to be restored,” he said. Garcia’s hope is to break back into the field of government and one day open a practice of his own.
Inspired by his story? Check out the video below to hear from Edmund Garcia or visit acu.edu/online to learn more about how our online degree programs provide practical skills needed for you to excel in the workplace.