Angelica smiling

Angelica Garcia’s seven years in the US Army as a signal support system specialist introduced her to the many career possibilities in information technology. So, after finishing up a three-year assignment at Camp Grafenwoehr in Bavaria, Germany, she moved to Colorado to begin her next chapter: college.

Angelica grew up in California and graduated from high school in 2016. Her role in the Army was managing communication systems and providing network support. “That gave me great experience and an idea of what I might want to after the military,” she says Angelica.

With family in Longmont, she decided to start her post-military life there. She arrived in Colorado in the summer of 2023, began researching nearby colleges, and found Front Range Community College. As luck would have it, the Center for Integrated Manufacturing at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus was just 10 minutes from her home.

Electronics Engineering Technology

Screenshot of Angelica

The college’s electronics engineering technology program caught Angelica’s attention. “I have a lot of hands-on experience installing network and signal equipment, and I’m very interested in expanding my knowledge and working as a field service engineer in telecommunications,” she says.

Angelica started with the Army Reserve and enrolled at FRCC for the summer 2023 semester. “IT is such a great career with so many options. I’m open to the possibilities, but I’d like to build my resume by installing communications equipment, managing an organization’s help desk, and getting involved in network administration.”

Becoming a Metallica Scholar

As Angelica got started at Front Range, she hit a few unexpected road blocks. Her GI Bill housing stipend from the Department of Veterans Affairs was delayed due to a widespread payment processing failure. Angelica had to drop the two classes she was registered to take in the fall and get a job as a security guard to make ends meet.

When an FRCC representative contacted Angelica about applying for the Metallica Scholars Initiative, the timing couldn’t have been better. The heavy metal rock band’s foundation, All Within My Hands, created the program in 2019 in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges to offer scholarships and support to students pursuing career and technical education programs.

In 2023, FRCC was among 11 new community colleges to join the Metallica Scholars Initiative—now totaling 42 schools in 33 states—and the college received $100,000 to support students in its advanced manufacturing programs offered at the Center for Integrated Manufacturing.

An Honor and a Huge Help

And so, just months after starting at FRCC, Angelica was one of the first students to be named a Metallica Scholar.

“It was such an honor for me, and I was so impressed by the other students I met at the award luncheon who were also receiving the scholarship,” she says.

Metaliica scholars with President Simpson (Angelica far right)

“It also came at a time when I was struggling. I have goals and a plan, but I needed support while things got sorted out with my GI Bill funding. This scholarship gave me the boost I needed to keep going.”

Now back on track, Angelica is taking physics and math and will move into the electronics engineering technology curriculum later in 2024.

A Support System for Success

Although she’s still fairly new to FRCC, Angelica feels right at home. She says advisor Tracy Bower from the college’s Veteran Services team is one of her greatest supporter. He has helped her with everything from registration to getting answers to important questions.

“I’ve really enjoyed my classes and my time here so far,” she says. “The staff is so great, from the instructors to the support services staff and advisors. They’re always helpful and giving me tips as I learn how to be a student again.”

Angelica expects to complete the Associate of Applied Science degree in electronics engineering technology in 2026. Eventually, she’d love to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

For now, she’s glad to be a part of FRCC and proud to be a Metallica Scholar. “I am absolutely ecstatic to be here, and so grateful to have this opportunity,” she says.

“I want to set myself up for a good future. FRCC is helping me do that.”

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