Hendersonville Police Detective Javier Garcia crossed the stage at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. on May 18 to receive his bachelor’s degree.
Unlike the other 625 students who graduated that day, however, Garcia’s journey to earning a college degree began nearly two decades ago in a different country. While working full time, providing for his family and taking college courses, Garcia’s hard work propelled him to success, professionally and academically.
At the age of 29, Garcia left alone from his home country and emigrated from Cuba to the United States.
“I spoke very little English and came to live in Middle Tennessee in December 2000 because my brother was already living in Madison,” Garcia said. “Freedom and a chance for a better life drew me to the United States.”
In 2008, Garcia became a U.S. citizen.
“After living in the U.S. for a while, I knew I liked helping people,” Garcia said. “I told my family in Cuba that when I became a U.S. citizen, I would be a police officer. They laughed. However, in December 2008, I applied to the Hendersonville Police Department and was hired in July 2009.”
Garcia was chosen in 2011 to be part of a FLEX team specializing in property crime and was later promoted to team leader. In 2014, Garcia enrolled at Union University Hendersonville to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree with a concentration in criminal justice administration. In addition to being enrolled in college, Garcia continued to serve and protect the Hendersonville community and was promoted to the rank of detective in November 2018.
“We are very proud of Javier’s accomplishments at Union and his service to our community,” said Renee’ Dauer, campus director of Union University Hendersonville. “His hard work and determination have garnered impressive results.”
Garcia graduated summa cum laude and received an Academic Medal of Excellence.
“I wanted to go to school for a long time, but I kept putting it off,” he said. “I finally decided to give it a try and enrolled in courses.
“Union is a good place,” Garcia continued. “My degree opened up an opportunity for a promotion and I know there will be more opportunities in the future. Importantly, earning my degree shows my kids that it doesn’t matter how old you are if you want something. If you have a goal, you can do it with time and effort. Because of that hard work and commitment, I earned a college degree.”