Believing she belongs: Olivet nursing alumna Genesis Garcia

“I had to press ‘play’ on my life and figure it out as I went.” — Genesis Garcia ’18 B.S.N.

November 12, 2018 Uncategorized

Olivet Nazarene University nursing alumna Genesis Garcia has experienced many firsts in her life — beginning with her first name. When she asked her mom why she received that name, her mom replied, “We named you Genesis to symbolize the beginning of our Christian faith when I was pregnant with you.” 

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The first (and only) daughter in her family, Genesis is a lifelong resident of Chicago Heights, Illinois. Her parents and older brother came from Mexico to the United States in search of her grandfather. They lived in the attic of a church, working and saving money so they could move into a house.

“We always spoke Spanish at home,” Genesis says. “I didn’t have anyone to teach me English, so I learned it from TV programs.”

Standing up against stereotypes

She worked hard in school, making the honor roll and speaking English as if she had spoken it all her life. Throughout high school, she was acutely aware of stereotypes associated with Hispanic teen girls: expectations that they would fail and not continue their studies as well as cultural pressure to find a man and start a family right away. 

Because of her strong faith and exemplary behavior, she was able to break those stereotypes by following her dad’s advice: “The school doesn’t make the student. The student makes the school.”  

Determined to get her degree

As high school graduation neared, her dad told her, “Just give me a year to be able to help you pay for college. It’s not going to be easy.” She agreed to delay college for one year.

During that time, she began saving money for her education at a college not yet determined. She worked as a server and a nanny. She did housecleaning with her mom and babysitting. She even mowed lawns! 

Genesis also worked full time at Aunt Martha’s Chicago Heights Community Health Center. That’s where she made two discoveries: nursing as her career path and Olivet Nazarene University as the place where she belonged. 

With the offer of a generous financial aid package and the determination to stop delaying her higher education, Genesis enrolled at Olivet. As she puts it so well, “I had to press ‘play’ on my life and figure it out as I went. It was time to start my plan.”

Learning about college and life

Entering Olivet as a freshman, she learned about her additional distinction as a first generation college student. Initially, she didn’t even understand what that meant. Then she realized that her job was to make a beginning for her future. She chose nursing as her major.

“Mentors are everywhere at Olivet,” she says. “Dr. Deanna VanKuren, Professor Mary Nehls and my clinical instructors in the nursing program believed in me. They didn’t just leave me floating in space, not knowing what to do. They cared and helped me to succeed.”

In May 2018, Genesis became the first person in her family to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree. She credits the support and encouragement of Olivet President John C. Bowling and his wife, Jill — especially during her junior and senior years — for making a difference in her Olivet experience. Today, she is a nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

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“I really want to encourage those students who don’t have a parent who went to college,” Genesis says. “You have the support you need at Olivet. You don’t have to feel lost. Feel empowered. You have the same opportunities as everyone else. God provided for me all the way. You can do all things with faith in God.” 

To learn more about the nursing program at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Reprinted from Olivet The Magazine, Fall 2018 issue.

Published: 11/12/2018

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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