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Father, mother, sister, brother attend Palo Alto

By Nina Garcia | Pulse Staff Reporter

Father, mother, sister, brother attend Palo Alto
From left to right: son Leonard Garza II, daughter Teresa Garza, father Leonard Garza, and Wife Ann Marie Garza

With the workforce’s demand for employees with college degrees, Palo Alto College enrollment of multi-generational students is increasing yearly.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college, and I knew I needed to change my life for the better,” said Leonard Garza, 44, a sophomore Kinesiology major. “I realized, ‘Hey, I can’t be doing manual labor forever.’ It was then I thought it’s never too late to obtain my degree.”

Garza said his family influenced his decision to attend Palo Alto. Wife Ann Marie Garza, 43, a sophomore Criminal Justice major; daughter Teresa Garza, 23, a freshman Education major; and son Leonard Garza II, 19, a freshman Criminal Justice major are all currently enrolled in the Spring 2012 semester.

Garza, a first-time college student as of Fall 2010, said he has always dreamed of becoming a high school football coach.

“I feel I can be more than just a coach, but a positive male role model, which many young boys are lacking nowadays,” he said. “I’ve been there already, so I can help influence their decision to go to college straight out of high school.”

Ann Garza said, “I’ve always thought about going to school, and my daughter is the one who actually gave me the push I needed. In order for her to receive financial aid assistance, one parent had to enroll, so I filled out the enrollment paperwork for myself that day,” she said.

Ann and her daughter were only awarded assistance if they enrolled together because of their financial standing.

It is typical to see a wide range of college students of various ages because there are many people who are returning to college in hopes of obtaining a degree needed to qualify for a higher-paying position.

Teresa Garza and Leonard Garza II said they are extremely proud of each other and their parents for going to school.

Teresa Garza attended the University of the Incarnate Word in Fall 2011, but she chose to attend Palo Alto instead after being influenced by Nicholas Lopez, an Upward Bound teacher.

Teresa said, “I knew I could go talk to my Upward Bound teachers if I needed help with anything. They are extremely helpful, and it’s a lot less expensive at PAC.”

The Garza family thinks it is a nice change to attend school together. It’s different, and it makes learning fun rather than a burden or stressful environment.   It is a good way to hold study sessions, help one another with schoolwork, and give each other opinions about a professor or class they have previously taken.

Although all four will be alumni of Palo Alto College, a friendly rivalry is in the Garza’s future. Leonard Garza and his son plan on transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Ann Garza and her daughter plan on transferring to Texas A&M at San Antonio once they graduate.

“Life comes at you hard, and you have to be prepared. It’s never too late to chase after your dreams,” said Leonard Garza. “I am very proud of myself and my family for going to college, and this experience helps keep us united as a family.”