Jose Garcia, Ogden Air Logistics Center Engineering Directorate Defense Logistics Agency 339 Engineering Support manager, accepted the collateral duty of Hispanic Employment Program Manager less than a year ago and, to this day, he continues to find ways to reach out to the Hispanic populations both on and off base.
"Most of (my outreach) has been through word-of-mouth so far, and now I have a list of 40 to 50 individuals that I disperse announcements from the base to," Garcia said. "As far as reaching out to the community, we plan to hold a training class in one of the local libraries."
The HEPM coordinates with the Equal Employment Opportunity director to increase Team Hill's awareness of the employment program and its benefits to Hispanic workers. This may include working with organizations both on and off base to inform the Hispanic population of available job positions at Hill Air Force Base and informing Hill's current employees of ways they can progress in their careers.
"One of the main reasons why I took this job as the Hispanic Employment Program Manager was to let the Hispanic community know what opportunities are out there," he said.
Garcia knows first-hand how it feels to be unaware of the opportunities that are available to Hispanic Americans. Garcia's family moved to Santa Cruz, Calif., from MichoacÃƒÂ°n, Mexico, when he was a young boy and he was raised in a farming community. His parents did not speak English, and they were therefore unable to understand his progress and requirements in school.
"I was responsible only to myself when it came to schooling," he said.
"Growing up as a farmhand, I thought that I was destined to work as a farmer for the rest of my life," Garcia added. "I attribute my fortune to the greatness of this country, and I had the ability to do well in school."
It was only by chance and Garcia's love of running track that led him to the path of acquiring a bachelor's degree in engineering from California State University, Sacramento.
"I thought that running was my life and then I figured that I had to make a living," Garcia said, "so I chose engineering because I was good at math and science."
After attaining his engineering degree, Garcia was introduced to the Air Force world by accepting a job at McClellan Air Force Base, Calif.
"I like a lot of things about the military," he said. "They are into education, health and fitness, and I like the fact that the military community broadens their experiences by working in different areas and locations. I think that makes a person more valuable to themselves and to the Air Force."
Once McClellan AFB closed, Garcia transferred to Hill AFB and has expanded his job experience by holding various positions. "I was working in ground communications when I first arrived here, then I transferred to mission planning and then I came over to the Engineering Directorate to learn different skill sets and experiences."
The HEPM position takes approximately 20 percent of Garcia's work time in addition to his regular duties with the Engineering Directorate, but he states that his supervisors encouraged him to take on this collateral duty and helped him adjust his engineering duties to accommodate his new responsibilities.
"I like helping people in general and I wish I would have had this help when I was younger," Garcia said when asked about his reasons for his application for the additional duty.
As he acquires more training in this position, Garcia hopes to continue expanding awareness in the Hispanic populations both on and off base for the various opportunities that are available at Hill AFB, as well as beyond the base gates.
"I try to explain to them the importance of continuing education, and I tell them that no matter how much or how little education they have, they can always improve by getting more education," he said.
Garcia took his own advice by enrolling in the U.S. Air Force Air University to complete the Air Command and Staff College and to get his Master's in Military Operational Art and Science. Although it can be challenging for him to juggle his full-time job and educational pursuits in addition to his duties as the HEPM, Garcia emphasizes that he will always make time to help others.
For those considering career progression or for more information about the Hispanic Employment Program, contact Garcia at 586-4927 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I try not to limit my services," he said. "People who are not necessarily Hispanic can come to me with similar questions. I'm always willing to help anyone and refer them to the proper program managers who will guide them in the right direction."