New attorney found encouragement going back to school

Release Date: May 7, 2009    

LUBBOCK – Ronnie Garcia admits he never even contemplated going to college after graduating from Lubbock High School in 1995. So the fact that he not only completed a bachelor’s degree but also a law degree is something that surprises even him these days.

And as Garcia embarks on a new law career with the Amarillo-based Underwood Law Firm, the world is full of new possibilities Garcia might never have imagined.

After working as a dental technician in Lubbock for a few years, Garcia married and knew that if he were to support a family, he’d need a better job with better pay. While working at the Cingular call center, he picked up a brochure about the Wayland Baptist University campus in Lubbock, then decided to get more information.

“They emphasized that my job had tuition reimbursement, and they had non-traditional hours and a degree in business,” Garcia said. “I started thinking about it and decided it would be good to go to school.”

He enrolled in February 2002 and went straight through, taking only a few classes each term since he was maintaining a full-time job. Still, Garcia finished in 2 ½ years, earning his BSOE in business administration. He still wasn’t sure what the future held, but he knew the degree would open up doors in management or higher positions. In a way, it already had.

While he was working toward the degree, Garcia was approached about applying for higher positions, but he turned them down because the hours would interrupt his education. He did take a position in the Office of the President, handling executive level complaints for the CEO, since the hours didn’t interfere. Then a light went on.

“In that position, I began to realize that law would be an interesting thing for me,” he said. “I handled issues that would come to us from the Attorney General’s office, the EEOC and the Better Business Bureau and spoke with a lot of attorneys, and I thought it would be interesting to go that route.”

He graduated from Wayland in January 2005 and had earlier started a job at Wells Fargo as an investment banker, starting the research and application for law school at Texas Tech University before graduating. He started law school in August 2005 and graduated in May 2008 with honors.

Once he completed the bar exam in July 2008, Garcia went to work for the Underwood Firm at its Lubbock office, where he clerked one summer and worked all during his third year of law school.

Garcia said his Wayland experience was pivotal in guiding him to a new career and preparing him for the rigors of law school.

“A lot of the professors I had were very encouraging and helped me realize the potential I had,” he said. “They prepared me well and got me ready for the fact that I would read and write a lot in law school. Every single class required writing, so I felt very prepared.”

Garcia said during his undergraduate experience, he picked up a few criminal justice courses at Wayland just to learn more, and he got to interact with attorneys who were teaching adjunctly for WBU. One was Lubbock Judge Sam Medina, who spoke in a Dynamics of Leadership class and later taught one of Garcia’s classes at Tech.

“He inspired me because of his background and his achievements and how he’d influenced his own children,” Garcia said. “I remember going up to him and thanking him and telling him about my thoughts of law school. He was encouraging to me as well.”

That encouragement, and support from his wife, a teacher, got Garcia through the years of intense study for the new world of law. As he prepared to move his family – including a 5-year-old son – to Amarillo and begin a new career, Garcia admitted some of the recent events are somewhat surreal.

“The feedback I’ve received from my mentors (at the law firm) have been very encouraging and affirming to me. They say this is what I was meant to do, and that’s why they’re glad to have me,” he said. “It’s not often that a new associate (at Underwood) gets to practice in a town other than Amarillo, but they ultimately want me in Lubbock. I guess I just fit in here and clicked with them.”