By the time George Garnica arrives at Fresno State for class every day, he has already worked a full morning shift at KSEE 24 television. About 22 years ago, his hard work in a Fresno County summer program at Telemundo paid off with a full-time job offer. Unfortunately, that meant he had to stop his education to focus on his work. He said it always bothered him that he did not finish his college education.
After focusing on his career for years, Garnica went back and received his associate’s degree from Fresno City College in 2017 and transferred to Fresno State’s Media, Communications and Journalism (MCJ) department in Spring 2018.
“What’s most amazing about George is that he works a full eight-hour shift as a morning news photographer at KSEE24, and then he takes a full load of classes at Fresno State,” said Faith Sidlow, MCJ. “Last semester, he took 20 units including a five-unit Spanish class at Fresno City College.”
“At one point, he was sent out of town for extended hours of breaking news twice within a week and never missed a beat. He let his inventiveness shine alongside his fellow students,” said Carey L. Higgins-Dobney, MCJ.
As a multimedia production major in the MCJ department, Garnica has made contributions to his community and has shown a dedication to the profession and his academic achievement. He has continually been rated as one of the top students in all of his classes.
“Education means so much to George. He came back to school as a working adult to act as an example for his children,” said Higgins-Dobney. “He embodies all that Fresno State can be.”
Garnica has distinguished himself in the field of journalism by producing creative works that have won local, regional and state awards including three Emmy Awards. He was also awarded the Fresno Bee Scholarship, the Chicano Alumni Club Scholarship, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded him a professional development scholarship.
He continues to serve both the university and his community as a volunteer. He volunteers his time as a guest lecturer for MCJ classes, he judges journalism entries for national competitions, and he coaches his son’s soccer team.
With plans to continue his education by attending graduate school, Garnica plans to teach journalism.
When I was 19, I qualified for a Fresno County summer program for disadvantaged youths. I was paid to work as a production assistant at Telemundo Channel 59 in Fresno while attending Fresno City College. I learned how to shoot field video, run studio camera, edit news stories, technical direct, produce and run audio for a 30-minute startup newscast. It made me realize that this was the career I wanted — TV news. When the program ended, the station hired me full time, but the schedule required me to give up school.
Two years later, Univision Channel 21 hired me. A news director at Univision in Sacramento saw my work and recruited me as a news photographer. I was 21. I worked in Sacramento for three years but missed Madera and my fiancé, so I moved back to a photography job at the Fresno NBC affiliate.
I always felt that something was missing, though. About eight years ago, I decided to go back to school to finish what I started. Getting my degree in Mass Communication and Journalism has been one of my life goals. I want to teach my kids that education is important at any time of your life and if I lead by example, that message will be engraved in their minds. If they see me go to school full time while working a full-time job that starts at 4 a.m. and find the time and energy to devote to my studies and service, then they can do it with fewer roadblocks. I hope I can inspire my kids and my family’s kids that it is never too late to pursue your goals.
As a student at Fresno City College, I helped promote FCC’s amazing journalism program and the school’s historic buildings. I volunteered hundreds of hours producing, writing, shooting traditional and aerial drone video, and editing the journalism department’s new promotional videos. The purpose was to help students learn about FCC’s journalism degree and about the historic buildings. I volunteered to create these videos because of my commitment to journalism and the importance of learning strong communication skills.
I have also assisted training Fresno State broadcast journalism students in storytelling, camera familiarity, and editing techniques in preparation for their Fresno State Focus newscast class.
But I have devoted most of my volunteering to coaching my son’s travel soccer team. I spent six years coaching the team to have a positive influence on disadvantaged kids. I did this because my coach, who became my mentor, did the same for me when I was in their position. He would pick me up and drop me off in front of my house to make sure I attended practice. I learned that it doesn’t matter where you live or how much you have because you can succeed if someone believes in you. Coach Sparky Phelps believed in me, and I hope the kids I coached learned the same life lessons from me as I did from Coach Phelps.