Garces Finding Family and Faith at WBU

 

The busy life of a college student can get overwhelming at times. Between classes, activities, jobs, obligations and social life, college days are hectic. For students like Calista Garces, those days start early. Up before sunrise, get ready for the day and out the door for 6 a.m. cheer practice. Follow it up with classes, study, volunteer work at her local church and then a game in the evening, and Garces has a full day.

But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Garces was looking for a Christian university where she could find a strong sense of community and grow stronger in her faith. She narrowed her choices to Wayland and another school down state. While the degrees and course offerings were comparable, Garces knew that being close to her home in Amarillo was something that she would cherish.

“I’m still very tied to my parents. I call them every day,” she said. “Wayland is far enough away to where I can feel that sense of independence that I was hoping for, but it’s close enough so that I can go home and still get a hug from mom and see my little sisters.”

 

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That ever-present sense of family has only grown since Garces has been at Wayland.  

“I love the community here,” Garces said. “I love that [campus] is small. After being here a while, you get to know everybody. I have that sense that there is always someone who is there for me.”

The family atmosphere has carried over into her classroom experience as well. Garces said her professors are always willing to help or just talk about life. Coming from a large high school, Garces has found the smaller classes refreshing.

“The small class sizes are a big thing for me,” she said. “I didn’t want to come in and learn from somebody who doesn’t know me. I love that they are small enough to where I can sit there and talk to my professors after class and they know my name.”

Garces is majoring in education with plans to be a middle school history teacher. A self-professed history buff, Garces said her dad encouraged and fostered her interest in history while she was growing up. Together, they would watch programs on The History Channel and during the summer, her father would suggest books to read. Garces wants to share her passion with middle school students to help prepare them for high school and show them the importance of understanding history.

Along with history, Garces is earning a minor in criminal justice. She said when deciding on a career, she was torn between education and working for organizations like Child Protective Services. She decided, however, that seeing what some children go through every day would be too difficult. Still, she wants to understand how to deal with and help where she can in some of those difficult circumstances.

“I just want to have more knowledge so if something is going on with my students I can be there for them,” Garces said.

But before Garces can begin working for her students, she is still learning and working toward her personal goals.

“I came here to get closer to God,” she said. “This school really has drawn me in. I wasn’t the type of person to go to church every Sunday, and now I’m at church every Sunday, every Tuesday and every Wednesday. I like that it’s opened my eyes.”

Garces spends one afternoon a week singing with the college ministry group at First Baptist Church in Plainview. She appreciates all the opportunities she has to learn more about God and biblical history.

“I’m still new to my faith,” she said.

With that newness, she admits that she is still uncomfortable in some situations whether it's praying in front of people or inviting others to church.

“What’s good about this school is that everyone is real accepting,” Garces said. “If you don’t want to go to church, they’re like, ‘That’s fine, we can do something else.’ Then eventually there is this time where you just kind of end up at church and the next thing you know, you are there every Sunday.”

Through it all, however, Garces knows that she is where she is supposed to be.

“When they always tell you that God has set a path for you, I know that education and what I’m doing now is what He has set for me,” she said.

 

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