Keeping Up With Katie

Katie Garza is a Student Success Counselor here at Cal Lutheran, she works for Student Support Services with first generation students. She has been working here for a little bit over a year, “it’s blessing to work here,” she states. Katie is married and has a two-year-old daughter. She has her Bachelors of Arts in English from USC and her Masters in Counseling and College Student Personnel from CLU. She describes herself as a homebody, “there’s nothing I love more than being at home, reading a book, or binging on some Netflix.”

Two fun facts: Katie has an English bulldog, 9-years-old, who is totally crazy. Between him and the baby, they keep her super busy. Additionally, Katie loves a good cheeseburger and steak. Read on to learn more about this amazing counselor!Her Campus Cal Lutheran: What is your favorite part about working at CLU?

Katie Garza: The students. I feel super lucky to be with them every day, they teach me a lot about life and myself.

HCCLU: What does working with first-generation students mean to you?

KG: Hoping to be able to make a little bit of a difference even if it’s a small difference. I feel very blessed with the population of students I get to work with on a daily basis. They teach me a lot through their hard work and dedication; I bring a lot of that into my life after having the opportunity to work with them. This is something I have been wanting to do since grad school; I was an intern in this office and I am glad I came back to a permanent position. I’m never looking back.

HCCLU: While you were pursuing your undergraduate degree and graduate degree, what was your biggest motivation and why?

KG: My biggest motivation was just getting there, I had two very different goals in mind for each degree. In both situations, I had a goal in mind and I wanted to reach that goal. I used that to push me and motivate me to reach my ultimate goal. I’ve been able to reach both those goals which I’m glad I did. I really wanted to make my family and my parents proud with what I was doing and accomplishing. My mom always told me after I finished my undergrad that I had to go get my Masters and I laughed; I didn’t want to go back. She said “you’re going back Katie,” and I shrugged her off. 5 years later, she was totally right, moms know best.HCCLU: What inspired you to be a counselor?

KG: After college I worked in the entertainment industry and I loved my job for a long time but I got to a point where it was very frustrating dealing with the people; they didn’t appreciate anything or the situation they were in. They took a lot of things for granted and I got really frustrated so I got up and moved out of Los Angeles. I relocated to Ventura County with my now husband. It took time to reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life but I found a graduate program so I went back and I thought about teaching although I soon figured out that it wasn’t for me. I wanted more of a one on one experience with students. I started at CLU working with the Counseling and Guidance Program and did an internship here with Student Support Services; it took me a bit of time to get back here. I have been really glad and happy.

HCCLU: What has been your favorite experience while working at CLU?

KG: Working with students on a daily basis makes me extremely happy. Being able to bring students to different cultural events and do things that sometimes they wouldn’t be able to do, it’s amazing to me. And the people I work with, I’m blessed to have really amazing coworkers in SSS. I worked in the Professionals Program as well and I’ve been really blessed to have amazing relationships with people here.

HCCLU: Do you think you inspire your students?

KG: I don’t think I necessarily inspire them; they inspire me more than I inspire them. I hope I can be a positive role model and provide a positive experience for them while being here. I don’t think I necessarily inspire them, but if I do, that’s great. I just want to be a good resource and ally for them.

HCCLU: What’s a piece of advice you want all your students to know?

KG: I would say that as hard as it may be, it will get better. To just put in the work and no matter how things look on the outside, if they’re looking at someone else and how easy their life looks, they should realize that they don’t know the whole story and everyone has their stuff going on. I would tell them to do what’s best for them and their families. Ultimately, it’s going to be okay.HCCLU: What do you like to do outside of work?

KG: Outside of work I like to spend time with my family, I have a 2-year-old daughter who’s the light of my life and an amazing husband. And I don’t get to do it very often, but I love to travel. So hopefully I get around to that soon. I love to read; I try to do that a little bit every day, it’s part of my relaxation and self-care.

HCCLU: What is something you want your daughter to learn from you?

KG: I want her to learn hard work and dedication to whatever it is she loves and that it is okay to change your mind and to make big life changes. And I just want her to learn to be happy no matter what form that takes or looks for her. I want her to learn how to love with her whole heart, how to give back to those in need and to have compassion and grace for herself and others.HCCLU: Do you have a life motto, if so, what is it?

KG: I don’t really have a life motto, but for my experience in life, life is way too short to be unhappy. From personal experience, I got to a point where I wasn’t happy with my job so it was super scary making that change but it was 100% worth it. You’re never too old to make a change. Start over if you need to.