Students in the System: Jennifer Galicia at Pacific Oaks College

When Jennifer Galicia started at TCS Education System, she wanted to eventually become a counselor. Now that same desire drives her to make improvements to her department and encourage others to seize learning opportunities.

Jennifer Galicia, Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Coordinator & Benefits Assistant at TCS Education System, knows the value of her education. Her educational journey as a first-generation college student motivated her to become a school counselor to help others who, like her, have had little guidance on higher education. Now months away from finishing her master’s, Galicia is hoping to inspire others to get the degree.

After graduating from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s in psychology in 2016, Galicia worked as a preschool teacher. Yet she still wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a counselor and soon began searching for other opportunities. TCS’s mission to help partner colleges and students succeed resonated with Galicia, so she applied for a role in human resources, hoping she could eventually transition to working with students.

“I have found that I have so many opportunities to make a difference and grow my career in HR,” Galicia says. “There are so many things that I’ve yet to learn, and that’s what keeps me motivated.”

When Galicia found out that as an employee she could earn a degree from one of TCS’s partner colleges, she took advantage of the opportunity and enrolled at Pacific Oaks College to obtain her M.A. in Organizational Leadership and Management. She handles working full-time and going to school in stride. Galicia does her assignments on her commute, on her breaks, and after work, too. She doesn’t mind having to structure her time like this—for her, it’s a fulfillment of a long-time dream.

“It was always my goal to get a master’s degree,” Galicia says. “I know a lot of people don’t get the chance to finish school—my parents’ highest level of education was only sixth grade. When they came to America from Guatemala, they had to work to support themselves. So I always keep that in my mind, that there are people out there who don’t have this option. Since I have this chance, I have to prioritize it.”

Once she graduates, she’s excited to further synthesize what she’s studied to make a tangible change at TCS and beyond.

“I took an HR course where the information we learned really did relate to what I am currently doing. It got me thinking about the way we do things here,” Galicia says. “And I started asking, why do we do things the way that we do them? Why don’t we do it in a different way? The course allowed me to think outside the box.”

Even though Galicia will complete her degree in spring 2020, she knows she won’t stop learning.

“If I can do it, anyone at TCS or across the system can do it,” Galicia says. “I always encourage employees who start with us to keep continuing their education. Even if you have a master’s degree, keep seeking other things that you don’t know and want to learn about. There’s always room for improvement.”