Posted on: December 3, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Isabella Klejka, COM 101 Student

Daniela Garcia is proof that a person’s past does not define her success in the future. Despite devastating family secrets and traumatic events, Garcia prioritizes her unconditional love for her family and manages to maintain a positive attitude about life.

Garcia, 38, was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. When she was only 7 months old, her parents decided to immigrate to the United States. However, they agreed that crossing their children over the river would be too dangerous, so instead, they found an American family willing to supply Garcia and her twin sister with fake documentation in order for them to fly safely to the United States.

Once Garcia and her family had safely arrived in America, they moved to Little Village, an area in Chicago with a large Mexican-American population. Garcia lived there for 20 years, but growing up was not easy for her.

“I saw shootings, drive-bys and gang fights,” she said. “I watched people die in front of me.”

As part of a course themed around empathy, students in Lisa Couch’s COM 101 write profiles allowing readers to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”

Despite being surrounded by gang violence, Garcia grew up in an affectionate family, with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who owned a mechanics shop. Her earliest memories were centered around the big family celebrations.

“My family was always partying and having a good time,” she said. “We had a big family and it was always nice when we got together and just had fun.”

Despite providing a loving household, her parents were keeping a secret from their children. Garcia’s father would fly out for days at a time, which made her a little suspicious. Once she got older, she also noticed her dad spoiling her with expensive gifts. The truth finally came out when Garcia’s parents got a divorce when she was 13 years old. Her mother admitted that her husband, Garcia’s father, was a drug dealer.

Despite her suspicions, Garcia was shocked, but she did not let this affect her unconditional love for her father, who was eventually caught and put in jail for 10 years. She kept in contact with him and visited him as often as possible. He was released for good conduct but died in 2014 in Mexico after being deported.

Losing her father was painful. In spite of his flaws, Garcia describes him as a positive person in her life.

“The reason I am who I am is because he made me strive for the best,” said Garcia. “I regret not taking as many pictures with my father when he was alive. I wish I had captured more memories to look back on.”

I saw shootings, drive-bys and gang fights. I watched people die in front of me.”

Daniela Garcia

Family has always played an important role in Garcia’s life. She is now married and has three children–two teenaged daughters and a son. The most important people in her life are her kids, her mother, and her grandmother.

However, her relationship with her grandma faced a major struggle when Garcia and her sister finally spoke up about being molested by her grandmother’s husband for three years.

When she spoke out, Garcia was only in 4th grade and started going to counseling. Even though this was an awful thing that happened, it strengthened Garcia’s relationship with her grandmother and gave her a valuable lesson to teach her own kids.

Garcia had been taught to stay silent, which is why she had kept the secret for many years. She now uses this experience to teach her kids about speaking up. She wants her kids to be open and to know their boundaries, and she reassures them they won’t be in trouble if they speak up.

Garcia’s kids inspire her to work long and hard. She wants them to learn from her the way she learned from her father to be hardworking and dedicated.

Garcia started working at 15. Within six months of starting her first job, she was promoted to manager at a flower shop. She now works at Pandora Jewelry as a store manager, but the journey to get where she is today was not always easy.

At times, she has felt her hard work was overlooked. In one instance, she had asked to be transferred to manage a different location of a store, but someone in a higher position made her feel because of her ethnicity she wouldn’t succeed there. She ended up making the move and proving people wrong by blowing the sales numbers away.

“Every store I go to, I bring up numbers,” she says. “I was the best that they’ve ever had.”

Put me in a room with strangers and best believe I’m going to make everyone laugh.”

Daniela Garcia

A current employee of Garcia’s, Therese O’Neill Masterson, says she loves working with Garcia. “This lady is so much fun,” O’Neill said. “She’s determined to make her team progress and gives everyone individual attention. She’s the same as a manager as she is in her outside life.”

Garcia began crying as O’Neill shared these words because she refers to her team as her “family.” She believes that her positive attitude and dedication to her team and the store are what makes them succeed.

Despite the hardships she has endured, Garcia brings positivity to every aspect of her life, and she wants to continue to grow to become the best possible person, mother, daughter, and manager she can.

In the end, she hopes to be viewed as a funny person who makes others feel comfortable: “Put me in a room with strangers and best believe I’m going to make everyone laugh.”