Motivational speaker Julia Garcia speaks to Mount Saint Mary Student's about her past and how she overcame it. (Photo by Jillian Torre)

by Erin-Therese Vecchi

Mount Saint Mary College was incredibly fortunate to have author and motivational speaker, Julia Garcia come to share, inspire, and inform students about her company Students filled the chairs of Hudson Auditorium and were immediately pulled into Ms. Garcia’s experiences, which she so bravely shared. Her story spans her 24 years and deals with drugs, alcohol, loss, rape, and turning it all around.

This program was in correspondence to the Culture of Life campaign. Not only did Ms. Garcia’s show exemplify Culture of Life, Ms. Garcia opened student’s eyes to a new outlook on life.

Several students asked questions in the Q and A portion of the show.

Student Question: What school did you go to?

Julia Garcia: Phoenix in Arizona. (Where Ms. Garcia is from.) Then I went to New York Institute of Technology (NIT).

Student Question: How old were you when you started drinking?

Julia Garcia: 14

Student Question: There was a gap between you going to rehab and becoming sober, what happened?

Julia Garcia: At 20 I was forced into rehab. Nobody knew I was embarrassed and ashamed. It took me a long time to get sober. Right after getting out of rehab was my 21st birthday and I decided to go to Vegas to celebrate, and that is where I first relapsed. I was trying to control drinking on my own. But then I would drink, black out and wonder how I got home. One day I called a hotline and went to a meeting every day for 90 days.

Student Question: Has your home life changed?

Julia Garcia: My home life has changed. My mom and brother are sober. My mom and dad are my best friends. I’m one out of 6. My siblings and parents are my rock and foundation.

Student Question: What do you hope for your future?

Julia Garcia: Keep an open mind and an open heart. Be passionate and hardworking. I’d love to see TRUality become worldwide and expand. Staying sober.

Ms. Garcia was gracious enough to sit down with the Mount Messenger for an interview after her show.

Mount Messenger: That was incredibly powerful and inspiring, what factors in your personal life inspired you to create your organization?

Julia Garcia: The loss of Shawn. (Ms. Garcia lost her best friend and Cousin Shawn to an accidental overdose at age 19.) The main thing was to bring something tangible that people could believe in. I wanted to create something that I didn’t have when I was younger.

Mount Messenger: You chose to introduce yourself through spoken poetry, why?

Julia Garcia: I turn to the arts to express myself; skits and spoken word pieces.

Mount Messenger: What made you decide to open up about your past experiences?

Julia Garcia: If I didn’t, I didn’t know who would.

Mount Messenger: Is it hard for you to speak about your past?

Julia Garcia: It resurfaces emotions. The emotions you see are real. It does have its moments but the rewards make up for it.

Mount Messenger: You had your audience do an exercise where you asked numerous questions pertaining to drugs, alcohol, loss, bullying etc. if we knew somebody, including ourselves, you asked that we stand up and turn to the other side of the room and vice versa. Where did you come up with that idea?

Julia Garcia: It’s easier not to judge when you’re looking into someone’s eyes, it’s a bond. It originated in a camp I went to called Unitown, it was a diversity camp and they had similar activities. The idea stemmed from that and writing.

Mount Messenger: The cover of your book is incredibly eye catching. Is there any reference to re birth with the picture?

Julia Garcia: It’s hard to explain. My sister is my photographer. There were a bunch of pictures. I understood it (the picture) and it encompassed what I was becoming.

Mount Messenger: What milestones have you reached?

Julia Garcia: My book. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was little. I always wanted to write a book before I was 25. My book will come out ten days before my 25th Birthday! The biggest thing has been building my relationships with my family.

Mount Messenger: What other types of programs do you do?

Julia Garcia: Diversity, woman empowerment, peer pressure and bullying.

Mount Messenger: What program is the closest to you?

Julia Garcia: This one on drugs and alcohol because I’m still going through it.

Mount Messenger: What is your message?

Julia Garcia: Stay TRU. When you stay true you can reach your fullest potential.

The message Ms. Garcia gives isn’t received through preaching or judgment but through her genialness and amazing courage. Hopefully the Mount will be fortunate enough to have Ms. Garcia back again.

You can catch Julia Garcia’s book in stores June 1st or buy it electronically for Kindle and Nook right now! Visit her on facebook or follow her on twitter.