PORTALES (BNM) - A former resident of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries, recently became the first person in her immediate and extended family to graduate from high school.
Maria Garcia graduated May 24 from Portales High School. Garcia is originally from El Paso, but lived at the Children’s Home throughout high school, following a childhood in which she saw both of her parents incarcerated.
In a phone interview with the Baptist New Mexican, Randy Rankin, NMBCH president, praised Garcia’s tenacity, work ethic and strong faith while emphasizing the importance of these characteristics in her educational successes. “Number one, it’s because of the Lord … she had an opportunity to respond to that and she has. I think that’s the most important thing,” Rankin said.
Rankin added that consistency in Garcia’s life since coming to the Children’s Home also played a role in her success. “She’s very fortunate that she had the same set of house parents the whole time she was in school. I think that’s a big plus, because there’s consistency there,” he said.
Garcia was elected to the Portales High School Queen’s Court and participated in the school’s traditional wrapping of the Maypole. Rankin, who serves on the school board, surprised Garcia by awarding her with her diploma during the school’s commencement ceremony.
According to Rankin, Garcia’s grandmother, whom she lived with before moving to the Children’s Home, attended the graduation, along with Garcia’s twin sister and younger brother.
Garcia is currently working at Inlow Baptist Camp and Conference Center, and will move into a transitional living apartment on NMBCH’s campus at the end of the summer. She plans to attend Eastern New Mexico University in the fall.