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Connect With A Mentor

Thomas Ray Garcia

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Bio: Thomas is a writer, educator, entrepreneur, and public servant from Pharr, Texas. He is the founder of CSLAP and currently serves as chair of the board of directors.

Thomas graduated from PSJA North High School in 2012 as class valedictorian. He attended Princeton University where he co-founded the Princeton Hidden Minority Council, an award-winning organization servicing first-generation and low-income students, and wrote student blogs for the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

 

A Gates Millennium Scholar, Teach For America Rising Leaders Fellow, and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, Thomas has combined his experiences in academic research with hands-on pedagogy. In 2016, he graduated Princeton as an English major with interests in literary criticism, post-secondary education studies, and creative writing. He earned 2 master's degrees in English and Higher Education Administration from UCLA and UTRGV, respectively.

At Princeton University, Thomas received the Ward Mathis Short Story Prize for his U.S.-Mexico borderlands fiction. He is the award-winning author of The River Runs: Stories and the co-author of the historical memoir, El Curso de la Raza: The Education of Aurelio Manuel Montemayor. He has also self-published a children’s picture book, Speechless, to empower young Latinos to practice public speaking.

Thomas founded CSLAP in 2013 and returned to Pharr every summer to host institutes for high school seniors. From 2016-2017, he created and taught the University Scholars Enrichment Course, an extension of CSLAP, at PSJA ISD. With over 10 years of teaching experience at the high school and college levels, Thomas has incorporated CSLAP as a 501(c)3 nonprofit to teach college access lessons at RGV high schools and connect students to near-peer mentors.

In 2022, Thomas ran for Texas State Board of Education, District 2. He placed third in the 5-way Democratic primary, earning a national endorsement from Run For Something and statewide endorsements from Texas AFL-CIO and Texas AFT.

Currently, Thomas oversees anti-poverty initiatives in the Hidalgo County Judge's Office. He also co-founded Beyond Borders Books, an independent press.

Mentoring interests: College admissions, college admissions essays, Apply Texas, Common Application, national scholarships, ACT test prep, college transition, professional development

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