Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.34.43 PMThis is the second of a three-part series of profiles featuring undergraduates who have made a significant difference in the life of Princeton Writes in 2013-2014, its inaugural year. The profiles were prepared by Emily Reardon ’16.

Thomas Garcia was raised in Pharr, Texas, which is located deep in the Rio Grande Valley, nestled along the Mexican border. With a large Hispanic population, English is primarily learned as a second language in Pharr. Greatly influenced by the environment of the southwestern city from which he hails, Thomas is looking to major in English, with a primary focus on education and helping students bridge the gap between high school and college. Ultimately, he is hoping to become a university professor.

However, his pursuit of an academic career will not be at the expense of his literary dreams. At the age of 13, Thomas began visualizing the plot for a six-part series of fantasy novels, broken into two trilogies, that follows a group of wanderers trying to discover both their own personal stories and the history of the fantasy world in which the novels take place. Three years later, he began to put these thoughts into words, and he expects the first novel to be titled “The Great Battle.”

In addition to writing, Thomas enjoys long-distance running, video editing, and making short films. He also has a passion for promoting college access among underserved populations and mentoring disadvantaged students, and it was his work with two relatively unknown community service organizations in high school that first introduced him to the power of a social media presence. Thomas utilized social media, and Facebook in particular, to record and share events with a larger audience in order to generate more involvement in and recognition of these two organizations.

Thomas’ goal in managing the social media presence for Princeton Writes is somewhat similar, though his connection to the program is rooted in a much older tradition of communication: the spoken word. He first met program director John Weeren through Speak with Style, a Princeton student organization dedicated to helping undergraduates improve their verbal fluency. Thomas’ interest in initiatives that promote language in all its forms prompted him to develop a Facebook page for Princeton Writes. On this page, Thomas documents the program’s activities and relays information from its website, including upcoming events, a word of the week, and writing advice. Since Princeton Writes’ website is only accessible through the campus network, the Facebook presence Thomas has created is, in a real sense, the program’s window on the world.

He hopes to see this presence grow, ultimately leading to an increase in student utilization of the many resources that Princeton Writes offers. More broadly, he hopes that the Facebook page will serve as a way to document Princeton Writes’ impact on the University community – a community that is richer for Thomas’ thoughtful presence.