LC Board of Trustees Place 1: Erica Benavides Garcia Q&A

[Laredo Morning Times] LC Board of Trustees Place 1: Erica Benavides Garcia Q&A

Age: 59

Education: Master of Science in Education with a degree in Educational Administration from Texas A & M International University and a Bachelor of Business Administration with a degree in Finance from Texas State University, formally Southwest State University.

Previous elected office: None

1. Why are you the best qualified candidate to take on this position?

I feel that I am the most qualified candidate because of the 28 years of experience in Education and 30 plus years serving our community on non-profit organizations.

As an educator at United ISD, I was a Business Teacher, Career & Technology Department Chair, and Student Organizations Sponsor. After receiving my Masters, I served as a Student Activity Director and an Assistant Principal, all at the High School level. I have extensive knowledge of student needs, budgets, campus improvement plans, special programs and career and technology programs. I have a firsthand understanding of preparing students for higher education, parent’s aspirations for their children and themselves, and adults that want to pursue higher education after work hours.

Presently, I serve on the boards of the United Way of Laredo, Laredo Center for the Arts, Laredo Main Street and the Laredo Chamber of Commerce. Serving our community on these boards has given me the opportunity to work with others on diversifying the economy and improving the quality of life and place for our citizens. The importance of collaborating with the city, county, business owners and managers, and hardworking citizens gives me a better understanding of the needs and how Laredo College can better address those needs.

2. What is your platform and what issues are most important to you?

My platform focuses on:

1.) Increasing enrollment at the College. Currently the enrollment is down over 30%.

2.) Expand the current program offerings to include the demands of some sectors in our community such as construction management program, a mortuary program, a court reporting program and truck driving/training program.

3.) Ensure that the current facilities are up to par for the needs of programs and students.

The most important issue to me is that all qualified students can get a higher education to support themselves, their families and in turn, our community.

3. What department or initiative do you believe needs further investment from the board?

I believe we need to look at and invest in the expansion of program offerings to meet the needs of all stakeholders and provide them as many opportunities as possible, be it in new programs offered, equipment, labs and instruction.

4. What should LC do to increase enrollment?

Having worked with high school students, I know it is imperative to have proper, accessible, and consistent representation on high school campuses. Establish a schedule for students and families to visit with Laredo College representatives to assist with the college application process and discuss the vast opportunities that Laredo College offers. These include workforce certifications, associates degrees, courses that will transfer to four-year universities and bachelor’s degrees. The two bachelor’s degrees offered are a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership. Convey the amazing accomplishments at Laredo College such as the LEAPS Program for students interested in the STEM majors, Allied Health Programs, Community Education, the others mentioned previously.

Also, look for new scholarship sources such as endowments, foundations, grants, charities and individuals.

5. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of any crime? If so, explain the circumstances and the outcome.

No.