IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
BSO: Thank you for your service to our great nation and your work at MacDill AFB. You’ve spoken about your vision to start a non-profit after graduation. Tell us about your life story.
My name is Antonio Mateo Garcia. I am a student at Fisher College in Boston and I am also a young Army veteran. I only served one contract due to an injury that I still deal with today. I receive medical retirement. Sometimes, I wish I was still in the service, mainly because it is a family tradition to join the military. Both of my parents served.
With my military background, I am proud to help any and all veterans whenever possible. I grew up in Detroit. During most of my childhood, I saw a lot of things, both good and bad. I would always see homeless individuals forming these giant lines just so they can get a spot in a shelter that wasn’t even in the best condition. I would see families forced to live on to the street due to foreclosure of their homes or from being evicted because they could no longer afford their homes, especially during the period of time when the auto factories started laying people off because they would replace them with machines or the factories would shut down. Ever since I was young, I wanted to help these people, I wanted to make a difference. I want to be able to build a small community that includes homeless individuals of all types; single individuals (veterans and non-veterans), families, and LGBT youth.
I will graduate with my Bachelors in Management with two concentrations (entrepreneurship and accounting) and with two minors (human services and Human Resources).
BSO: There is no typical day in the life of a college student. Share with us your daily schedule.
My daily schedule is always different but there is a few similarities. Everyday starts with waking up around 8am to 8:30 am. On Mondays, I have 3 classes (management applications, marketing and macroeconomics). Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have my accounting class, which is fun. This class is the reason I added accounting as my second concentration; I instantly fell in love with it. I also have my work study.
BSO: What are your ‘can’t live without’ software applications?
My absolute favorite software applications is Microsoft office ; I am a pro at every application Microsoft has created; word, powerpoint, excel, etc. I use them all almost everyday. I use excel the most because I actually use it to do my monthly budget. I could not live without Microsoft office.
BSO: What has been your strategy for building your ‘brand’ on LinkedIn?
I update my LinkedIn profile every month in case there needs to be anything added to my experience or awards. I only make connections with people I know or with people I can gain from (experience or advice) for my future endeavors. When I was leaving the Army, I took a “transition to civilian life” class. This is when I first created my LinkedIn profile.
BSO: What are your proudest achievements, professional & personal ?
Joining the military was one of my favorite accomplishments, on a personal level, but getting my associates degree is my favorite achievement professionally. I have dyslexia and I also had a bad semester where I wasn’t trying my hardest, so to know that I went through it all and I still came out and got my first college degree, it makes me smile. I am very proud of myself and I continue to be proud of myself with all that I want to do.
BSO: What are you currently reading ?
I am currently reading “Escape Room”. I try to find at least an hour each day to read which can be complicated at times due to my school schedule.
BSO: What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
I donate food or clothing when there is a drive. As of now, I am focused on my schoolwork. I want to start soon a non-profit organization, calling it “Backpacks for the Homeless”, where I will buy simple two-pocket backpacks and fill them with essentials like a toothbrush, a blanket, snack foods, travel size soaps and toothpaste, etc. I plan to start a GoFundMe to get collect funds in which I can obtain the funds to buy everything I need to start it off. https://www.gofundme.com/f/avrza-backpacks-for-the-homeless?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1
BSO: Who has influenced your life the most?
My mother has been the biggest influence in my life. Part of the reason I want to help homeless families (especially families with single moms) is because I saw my mom suffer and there have been many times where we didn’t really have a place to call our own. The time I remember the most is when my brother, my mother and I stayed in the basement of a family friend when my mother lost her job and we couldn’t afford to live in our house. My mother is also an army veteran so luckily we had her veteran benefits to fall back on but not all single moms (or single dads) have that.
BSO: What is your advice for someone interested in joining the military ?
Do your research on the branch you are interested in and talk to a recruiter directly. If you are truly interested in the military, and not just for the free college education, then a recruiter will be the best person to talk to. Also, talk to any veterans you may know: they can give you first-hand experience especially if they were deployed. I was not deployed during my short time in the military but I loved basic training.