Munoz-Garica looks forward to education at JMU

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Used with permission by Mairany Munoz-Garcia

Senior Mairany Munoz-Garcia has been in the Valley Scholars for the past five years.

Veronica Guiterrez , Staff Reporter

Valley Scholars is a program that helps first generation college students make their way to college. For most students, the program starts in eighth grade and carries throughout high school. After the completion of the program, students receive academic scholarships to cover college tuition.

Senior Mairany Munoz-Garcia is a senior who started the program in eighth grade. She plans to use the scholarship to attend James Madison University (JMU).

“[JMU] has been my dream school since I was a little kid. I want to study something in medicine, hopefully health sciences. I’m a phlebotomy student at Sentara, so I’ve always known I wanted to be in the medical field. I want to get more education to further push myself in the industry,” Munoz-Garcia said. 

Munoz-Garcia wants to be a “double duke”. This means she would finish her four years at JMU, then go back for her masters or a doctoral degree. She plans on doing their PA (physician assistant) program. 

“I’ve had many mentors and supporters. Ms. Jennifer Glazer has helped me connect myself with the Sentara RMH phlebotomy program, Ms. Cummings told me about the nurse aide program, and Mr. Blosser had been so generous to pay for the phlebotomy program,” Munoz-Garcia said. 

Despite having support through her post-high school plans, Munoz-Garcia is looking forward to having independence in college.

“I’m really excited to be on my own, but that’s also what I’m nervous about. I’m excited about making new friends and doing something new,” Munoz-Garcia said.

Being in the Valley Scholars program provides students with an experience they otherwise wouldn’t have received. The program’s main focus is to prepare students for college. 

“[Valley scholars] introduced us to majors that aren’t really spoken of like Computer Science and Environmental Science, Theater and English. It’s something new that we haven’t seen before. It’s really unique because they introduce us to many different things that most high school students don’t hear about. It’s really an eye opening experience preparing us to go to college,” Munoz-Garcia said.

Valley Scholars has not only helped the students academically, but socially as well.

“Valley Scholars helps you make friends. I really love that. I have made life-long friends through the Valley Scholars program. [We have been] with each other for five years, so we got into the schedule of seeing each other once a month. We will always have that little group of people that we feel so comfortable with. It’s a different kind of friendship than high school friendships where you see people every single day. You only see valley scholars twice a month at most. So we started building this bond and staying in touch with each other, which prepares you for college where you won’t see each other as much,” Munoz-Garcia said.