Needing a challenge, this year’s valedictorian for the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus found her path at an Albuquerque charter school — Digital Arts and Technology Academy.
Miriam R. Garcia, a Valencia County resident, said she wasn’t being challenged by the school she was attending.
“It was not helping me with what I needed to do. It was not helping me with my goals,” Garcia said.
A friend told her about DATA, which focuses on digital arts and technology, so she spent two years carpooling with him and achieving her goals.
“I learned so much in my two years there,” she said.
Garcia was the valedictorian of her graduating class at DATA, earning a 3.967 GPA, as well as at UNM-Valencia Campus, with a 4.27 grade point average. Garcia graduated from the branch campus with an associate of applied science degree in game design and simulation in the fall of 2021.
The next step in her journey is in Arizona at the University of Advancing Technology this fall, where Garcia will be studying for a bachelor’s degree in game art and animation with the ultimate goal of becoming a concept artist for video games.
“Those are the people who come up with the base ideas that go into make a game — everything from the characters to the weapons. It’s all about the visuals and environments. Its about collaboration and sharing ideas,” she said.
Garcia said one of the key reasons she chose UAT was its connection to the gaming community, with studio representatives visiting frequently to show works in progress and do some recruiting.
Looking at her academic accomplishments so far, Garcia said what any student needs to remember is they have to work for the grade.
“When you dedicate yourself to doing well, the grade comes,” she said. “There’s a quote me and my family use from ‘The Iron Giant.’ It’s when the kid says, ‘Just do the stupid homework …’ Sit down in front of the computer instead of complaining. You have to put your mind to more important and productive things. Even if you don’t want to, just get it done.”
Describing herself as “drawing since I could hold a crayon,” Garcia says her parents — John and Sylvia Garcia — are both artistic and creative.
“I grew up around creating, around video games. This is a mesh between both worlds that’s really fun,” she said.
Her first year of college was a bit unusual as her parents were also classmates, but Garcia said they contribute a lot to her creativity and the fun she has in life. The second oldest of four children, the family is close and enjoys doing things together.
“Watching movies, playing video games, making memories together,” she says.
As she gets ready for the next part of her journey, Garcia wanted to remind people to not compromise their standards for the world.
“A lot of people often have everybody breathing down their neck, telling them they can’t or shouldn’t do something,” she said. “But if it’s in the plan God wants for them, they should pursue it, even if everyone is telling them they can’t.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.