Your UCF Journey Doesn’t End at Graduation

Andre J. Garcia

Andre J. Garcia

Each semester, UCF’s graduating students look forward to the commencement ceremony as a celebratory end to their college careers. However, their connection to UCF doesn’t have to end. At the 2014 spring commencement ceremony, graduates from the College of Sciences will have the opportunity to hear from COS alumnus, Dr. Andre J. Garcia, ’08, who will share how graduates can stay connected to their alma mater.

Dr. Garcia has split his career between being a perpetual student, earning an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology, and working in research for the U.S. Military. A lifelong learner, he will be returning to UCF in Fall 2014 as a student earning his Executive MBA. Dr. Garcia most recently worked with the US Army Research Lab as an ORAU postdoctoral research fellow, Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED) in the Human Factors Integration Division and Simulation and Training Technology Center. While at ARL, he worked on the Autonomous Robot Pilot Initiative (ARPI) and IMPACT (Intelligent Multi-UxV Planner with Adaptive Collaboration/Control Technologies.) In January 2014, Garcia was named the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s Space Coast Chapter’s Social chair and membership coordinator.

Upon receiving his invitation to speak at the commencement ceremony, Dr. Garcia thought about what he wished he had known before graduating from college. In preparation for commencement, he kindly shared his advice for graduating seniors entering the professional world.

Every person should become fiscally literate. By this Garcia means understanding how debt works, specifically the difference between consumer/revolving debt (credit cards and the like) and installment debt (mortgage payments, etc.), understanding how the stock market works, understanding what a ROTH IRA, 401k, 429, and other retirement vehicles are. Understanding the different components of a FICO score (your credit score) like debt-to-credit ratio, debt-to-income ratio, etc.

Understand how geopolitical events affect our everyday lives. For example, understand how a new free trade agreement affects our country and certain industries. Understand how a new war with a certain country may directly affect your life and your work industry. How does a recession or a war impact the tourism industry different from the technology industry or the military-industrial complex? For example, a recession will have a very bad impact on tourism because it is a luxury. Similarly, peace time will hurt the military-industrial complex. There’s a saying that democracy and capitalism work best with an educated population. The original signers of the declaration of independence were not all lawyers and political science people. There were engineers, teachers, scientists, doctors, and a whole variety of professions involved in the forming of our country.

Every single new graduate needs to stay technologically literate. Technology is never going away. Embrace it. Stay up to date with it. Understand the latest and greatest. For example, there is a whole generation of older FORTRAN programmers out there who refused to learn new languages and as the computer world stopped using FORTRAN, they all lost their jobs if they didn’t learn the newer programming languages like C and Java. Technology can work for you or against you. Make it work in your favor. The most important thing I would stress about staying up with technology is to learn a programming language. Even if you never use it in your day to day job, there’s a Public Service Announcement out there from Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Will-I-AM, and Chris Bosh () saying learning how to program teaches you how to think differently, break down problems into addressable chunks, and understand how all the parts interact with each other.

The College of Sciences would like to thank Dr. Garcia for his advice and agreeing to speak on behalf of the UCF Alumni Association at the 2014 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 3 at 9 a.m. We can’t wait to see him and celebrate our graduating students.

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