Many college students spend time between classes volunteering with local groups and helping out where they can. But the volunteer work of University of Houston-Victoria sophomore Stacie Garcia can be a bit on the wild side.
The lifelong animal lover volunteers at Victoria’s Texas Zoo. With help from the trained staff, she cleans pens, assists with educational events and even aids in feedings.
“It’s so much fun to be right out there, working with these animals,” she said. “Not everybody gets to do that.”
The tigers are among Garcia’s favorite zoo residents. They sometimes act like oversized pets, Garcia said.
“They recognize their names when we call them,” she said. “We give them their meds in meat balls and push those through the fence. When they eat them, they really will lick you like they’re big dogs.”
The biology major said she hopes to use her love of animals and experiences at the zoo to eventually become a veterinarian.
“Ever since I can remember, that’s what I’ve wanted to do,” she said, explaining that her five dogs, fish and bird also provide a bit of firsthand knowledge. “It has just always come naturally.”
Course work and animals aren’t all that fill the busy 20-year-old’s life, however.
Garcia remains active in a number of student organizations, including Gamma Beta Phi, Student Senate and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Away from campus, she also mentors an elementary school student once a week, reads and plays soccer.
“It all keeps me pretty busy, but I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s good to be busy.”
Looking ahead, she’s excited to continue on down the road toward her veterinary goals. She will soon move on to the veterinary program at Texas A&M University in College Station, but said she will miss her time at UHV.
“This school is a really good fit for me,” she said. “I’ve loved it.”
Garcia has advice for others looking to find a profession they’re passionate about: They should find what suits them and go for it.
“Pursue that degree that makes you happy,” she said. “Really, that’s what matters.”
The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.