Moments passed as he sat at the table with his hands folded, intently looking down — searching for the perfect words to define who he was, is and wished to become.
“A word that would define my past would be ignorant. Am I going to be able to explain that?” Garza said.
Senior Austin Garza has learned some valuable lessons about life through various work opportunities.
Not only has this young man learned more about himself through these experiences, but he now knows how he can use his talents to benefit those around him.
“I feel that I have a higher level of critical thinking than most people . . . and in the past I used that for my advantage rather than for the benefit of others” Garza said. “So I was kind of ignorant with the gifts I had.”
Garza is a native of the Denver area and has a heart for reaching out to others –especially in the area of faith. On any average day, you may see him around campus longboarding or hanging with friends. However, behind the scenes Garza is actively involved on the Student Leadership Ministries Team at the University which helps sets up various activities and opportunities for students to grow and develop in their faith. As a member of the team, Garza has had a greater opportunity to do what he loves–help and serve others through Christ.
The next word that followed ignorant, which describes Garza’s past, was open-mindedness ,which illustrated how Garza felt represented him at this stage in life.
“My open-mindedness is in my spiritual journey and understanding myself better” Garza said. “I realize now that I can fully use my gifts to benefit others and help people more than I could ever help myself.”
In May 2011, Garza took the position of being a personal assistant to the former wife of the owner of the Colorado Rockies. However, Garza did not let the background of who his employer was affect his work. Instead, he focused on using his skills to serve.
“The job stayed on track with what I was originally told I would be doing which was mainly computer work, but I also did a lot of handy work, sometimes helped her kids and managed the different aspects of the property, etc.” he said.
Garza said a main takeaway from that position was patience. Having to work with someone who knew a lot, but not as much as he did in certain areas, reminded him that just because one does not have that same view does not mean they are less— just different.
In summer 2013, Garza accepted an internship with The Denver Rescue Mission, which aimed to help families transition from homelessness to permanent housing.
“I worked with a lot of individuals over the phone and also taught a critical thinking class,” Garza said. “I was able to think quickly and have patience in the areas I didn’t enjoy as much, such as phone calls, but I also realized that these tasks had value and could still help many people” Garza said.
Through these experiences, Garza obtained a broader idea of other people and who he was.
“I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. I’ve worked with someone who was a multi-millionaire to people who are currently homeless,” Garza said. “I think it’s really important to diversify your perception of where people are and in that you can become not only more open-minded but also less focused on yourself.”
The last word that Garza stated for his three words, honest, framed how he wanted to outline his future.
“A lot of the times I don’t put a lot of thought into where I’m at when I’m helping others, even though where I am could help where they are, but I am still scared about being vulnerable with people at times,” Garza said. “So my future aspirations would be to be honest in helping people with what I know and who I am at that point.”
Alyssa Garza, Austin Garza’s younger sister, has noticed Austin becoming more honest with others as she has seen him mature over the years.
“My brother is very blunt with what he says and won’t care what other people think about him and because of that he’ll tell them straight up how he feels or how they should change the situation they’re in” she said Alyssa.
Austin hopes to obtain his master’s in counseling and then eventually open his own practice.
“With this profession, I will need to make sure I’m being honest with them in telling them about their situation but also be honest with myself so I can help them understand where I’ve been and how that has shaped my perspective,” Garza said.
Longtime friend of Garza’s, Greg Murray said Garza has helped others see life in a new perspective because of the honesty and faith he exudes.
“Getting to know Garza is like climbing a mountain, once you climb to the top, you begin to see the world in a more beautiful and unique perspective than before,” said Murray. “Garza is one who is clothed in humility and because of that, he genuinely cares about people.”