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by Britton Drown   |   Video: Brandon Rawe
Texas Tech Athletics Communications

Oct. 4, 2012

The journey back to that particular moment so many years ago still brings a smile to the face of Amaris Garcia. She was eight. Or was it seven?

That trademark smile returns as she weaves through the memories, and while the exact year may not come to her instantaneously, the crisp memories most certainly do.

There were the Texas Tech cheerleaders, the brightly colored uniforms, and of course the catchy cheers that filled the room. Her mother, Christy, had taken Amaris to a local Texas Tech cheerleading camp that day and it quickly became a memory that still recalls her trademark smile.

Amaris Garcia appeared on the 2000 Hispanic Heritage football game program


"Just to see the spirit and the colors, the red and black - I've just grown up with those colors," she said. "Seeing their spirit and seeing their enthusiasm for this school was just such an amazing thing."

Yes, Garcia, now a junior at Texas Tech, fell in love with her hometown university that day. But perhaps the most symbolic step of her story came just a few years later in the fall of 2000.

That year, she was chosen to appear on the cover of a Texas Tech football game program promoting the Hispanic Heritage game to be played just down the road at Jones Stadium.

When the glossy program printed, Garcia was prominently on the colorful banner wearing her mother's Texas Tech graduation cap and gown. Images of the university, including Jones Stadium and Texas Tech football players surrounded her.

Fast forward to 2012, and Garcia is now on track to graduate from Texas Tech with a degree in public relations.

"I think I was just born to be a Red Raider," she said.

Now, Garcia is a highly-involved student at Texas Tech who also works on campus in the Center For Campus Life. As a student at Texas Tech, a school with rich Hispanic heritage displayed in everything from the school's traditions to the architecture throughout the sprawling campus, the Hispanic Heritage game has grown into a truly special event for Garcia.

That deep Hispanic influence will be celebrated on Saturday when the Red Raiders face Oklahoma at Jones AT&T Stadium in the official Hispanic Heritage game.

"Just going to the football game and knowing the game is catered to us and seeing that they appreciate Hispanics and embrace our culture and diversity in general is something that I really do applaud Texas Tech for," Garcia said. "It's something that just really makes me feel more at home and more appreciated by Texas Tech. The Hispanic Heritage game really does mean a lot and it is just something to look forward to."

The Hispanic student population at Texas Tech has increased each year since 2000 according to the Texas Tech Division of Institution Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement which has published data from 2000-2010. The Hispanic Heritage football game looks to celebrate that tradition and heritage of the school by displaying its rich influence through traditional displays and banners throughout the stadium this Saturday.

Garcia is now on track to graduate from Texas Tech in December 2013. For her, it will certainly be a moment that she looks back on with that same trademark smile - as her journey at Texas Tech will have come full-circle from that moment so many years ago when she first fell in love with Texas Tech.

"It really has come full-circle," she said. "I'm so much closer to the finish line and just seeing that picture, in a few months that will be me. It will be my actual graduation and is definitely exciting."

 

 

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