K-State shaped young storyteller now back on campus to write university’s story

Posted July 01, 2024

Rafael Garcia

Rafael Garcia ’19 is the son of immigrants.

He came to K-State as a first-generation college student, not knowing much about the college experience, but here he found community in a variety of ways.

“I came here not knowing any of those traditions, not fully loving purple yet,” Garcia said. “And once I got here, it was just so easy to get into that.”

First through his living community at the Honors House, then through his department at the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication. He got involved as a writer for the Kansas State Collegian. He was a member of the Developing Scholars Program. He’d take leadership positions in these groups serving as president of the Honors House, as an ambassador for the Miller School and as editor of the Collegian. He also joined Wildcats Forever as a way to get some cool K-State swag and stay connected to the university.

One of his first memories of K-State was New Student Convocation where the K-State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni recipients give a speech to inspire incoming students.

“I remember going to that New Student Convocation and being amazed at everything that was going on, all the songs,” he said. “I remember thinking, especially through the Alma Mater, how beautiful a song it was, and just knowing that later on four years after that, I would be hearing that song at graduation. So when I did finally hear it at graduation, it was a very special moment.”

Garcia left K-State recognized with a Robinson Family Multicultural Leadership Award and the Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Student Award.

He set out to tell stories as a journalist writing for multiple news organizations including the Manhattan Mercury, Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Beacon. Often covering the education beat, Garcia stayed engaged with K-State, reading the K-Stater magazine to stay informed and engaging with alumni through attending events like the Alumni Excellence dinner.  

“Getting to sit with a lot of people that were pretty excited to meet me,” he recalls attending the Alumni Excellence dinner. “And I thought that was neat. There was one woman who shook my hand for a solid minute. Like she was so happy to meet me.”

Last year Garcia returned K-State to work as a writer and editor for the university’s Division of Communications and Marketing.

Leaving journalism was hard for Garcia, but he knows he left having accomplished something as a reporter. A craft he learned at K-State, so it felt right to leave for a spot he loved full well.

“Here at K State I think it has a really important mission,” he said. “And beyond that, I always felt happy here. I always felt great walking through campus. I knew coming back would be more of that.”

As part of the university’s team that edits and prepares news releases, works with news  media and produces K-State’s flagship research magazine Seek, Garcia is still making a difference helping inform people.

“More than anything that I think I am back here to try to figure out how to best tell some of these really excellent stories of what we do at K-State in a way that focuses on people first,” Garcia said. “There's really important work that we're doing and starting, especially through K-State 105, through Next-Gen K-State, through all that outreach. And I want to make sure that that is also top of mind, whenever somebody talks about K-State.”