When Oscar Garcia was growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, his parents encouraged his interest in computers. Living on the border of Mexico and the United States gave Garcia a unique perspective of experiencing two melding cultures. Today, Garcia is a software engineer at Luna. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Garcia shared how he was inspired to join the STEM field of computer programming and how his heritage has shaped his career, personal life, and leadership philosophy.
What do you do at Luna?
I’m a software engineer. I work with the backend team to do everything on the backend of the Luna application. I work primarily with a lot of business logic, but more into why it’s happening behind the scenes. This October will mark one year for me at Luna.
Tell me about how you grew up.
I’m from Tijuana, Mexico. I was born and raised in Tijuana and have been living here for the past 27 years. Living on the border gave me the opportunity to get to know San Diego and experience both cultures. I had the unique advantage of seeing both worlds. I was very interested in pop culture and technology, including television, movies and video games.
My parents worked all day. So, as a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandma. My parents worked hard to provide me with an education, and I was very grateful. I remember my father buying our first computer with Windows XP. That was when I started to get interested in computing. I took a computing lab in school, and my passion for computers just grew from there. Video games were a big factor in my decision to take the software development major since it was the spark that got me interested in how software was made. When I got to high school, I entered the world of programming with very simple console applications. Looking at colleges in Mexico, I looked for software development programs and decided on Cesun University. I graduated as a software engineer in 2017.
What aspects of your Hispanic heritage do you think have impacted your work at Luna?
Fellowship. Growing up here on the U.S.–Mexico border, you can see how fellowship is such an important part of the community. It’s one of the core values I’m proud of. At Luna, I want to build a team and work with my team toward a common goal. In this case, it’s building complete software at the highest standards.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a representation of what we value as a community; that we are part of a connected group and have an important role to play together. I’m proud of my heritage and where I grew up. For me, these four weeks are a reminder and chance to tell the world that as a group, we can do amazing things. We have done amazing things.
Was there a particular person who inspired you growing up?
My mom. She’s the person who always inspired me to be a better person. She taught me to stay humble, and that no matter how hard things get, keep pushing. Those lessons she taught me got me to where I am today as a software developer.
Is there anyone in your field who served as a mentor in your field?
I had a professor at university who inspired me to continue to pursue programming. He also kept pushing me to continue to create new goals for myself, to step out of the box, and to approach new jobs or new technologies. Looking back, I can see that I was hesitant or unsure of myself, and he kept pushing me to be more confident and try new things. I admired the knowledge he had of software development, and I looked up to him as someone I wanted to emulate. I strive to be that person who wants to mentor people and share their knowledge with others in the field.
What advice would you give to a young professional in the STEM field?
Keep working hard. Keep innovating. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t be afraid of failing. It’s where you will learn the most. Another important piece of advice is always to keep an open mind—that’s where the greatest ideas come from. When you have an open mind, you start seeing things in different ways.
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