Skip to content

MEP Alumni Spotlight: Christine Garcia 

It is easy for individuals to feel alone and out of place at big schools. However, the University of Tennessee has the right support systems to prevent students from feeling that way. Tickle College of Engineering (TCE) graduate, Christine Garcia (EECS, ’20), experienced UT’s support systems firsthand.

“There were moments when I wasn’t sure if such a big school was for me, in a major where there were probably only four Latinos in my cohort. I felt out of place,” Garcia said. “But I would check in with my fellow Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) members and that would make me feel the support of a smaller community that I needed to succeed.”

SHPE and NSBE are both student organizations within TCE’s Engineering Diversity Programs (EDP). Garcia had been involved in EDP ever since she was in seventh grade. Her middle school counselor was the one who informed her of EDP and its pre-college programs.

After being active with EDP and building connections during her pre-college years, Garcia decided to be an electrical engineering major at UT. The relationships she gained became the most valuable thing she received from EDP.

“I felt like I had such a great support system that no other schools felt like the right and best choice,” said Garcia. “I have fostered lifelong friendships and relationships with people who look and think like me, which I didn’t realize was possible until I was going through it.”

The person Garcia received the most support from throughout her time at UT was EDP’s Fred D. Brown Jr. Director Travis Griffin. He also helped her find an internship position at US Cellular and encouraged her to apply for it. This internship position led to a full-time job opportunity at the same company.

“Travis Griffin was such a big part of why I am who I am today. Not only with where I am career wise but also the confidence that I have in myself came from all those times he would run into me in Perkins or when we had our meetings to check in,” Garcia said. “He made me realize that I am not alone in how I felt while going through all my classes and gave me such support in times when I truly needed it.”

Garcia is now a core services engineer at US Cellular. In the near future, she plans on acquiring her master’s degree in information technology. She hopes to continue developing her technical skills in her current industry and become a leader on her team.

Garcia’s advice to students is to, “Live in those moments, whether it’s stopping by the student resource centers or going to a general body meeting. Be present, because for me, they kept me sane and encouraged and supported me throughout my four years while going through quite a challenging time with being a first-gen student and getting an engineering degree.”


Lilly Tran (