Stories of us: Altamont | Beecher City | Dieterich | Effingham | St. Anthony | Teutopolis
Jackeline Garcia Effingham High School
In recognition of her 15th birthday, Jackeline’s parents, both born in Mexico, celebrated her in the traditional rite of passage known as the quinceañera. The colorful fiesta marks the transition from childhood to womanhood for Latina honorees in many Spanish-speaking cultures. When Jackeline’s parents immigrated to the United States, they had two young sons — ages 5 and 7 — who would be instrumental in helping the family acclimate to their new family and their new language. Mr. Garcia got a work visa and found opportunity in his friend’s Mexican Restaurant where he still works to this day. The family may have left the country of their origins behind, but they’ve held onto the values of hard work, tight family, and a commitment of contribution to their community. And while the quinceañera may have been a symbolic moment of transition for Jackeline, in many ways, she’s been in transition her entire life. Born in America to parents of Mexican heritage, the president of the French Club, a math prodigy, a budding chemist, and a class of ’25 admitted applicant to The University of Notre Dame, she is about as far from her beginnings as a person could be.
Growing up in Effingham, Jackeline attributes much of her academic success to outstanding guidance from her teachers. She cites French teacher, April Karpus-Weddle, as an extraordinary influence, engendering in her a real love for the French culture, language, and people. A fluent Spanish-speaker, Jackeline is tri-lingual and is seriously considering a French minor in college. Her Chemistry teacher, Norene Ault, too, has been an outsized influence on Jackeline’s post-secondary trajectory as she will almost certainly choose to major in Chemistry in college. And speaking of college, it was that very same Chemistry teacher who made Jackeline aware of Questbridge, a California-based organization that specializes in finding excellent college fit for students with limited financial means. Top students from across the country are finding fit at some of the Nation’s top schools, including Vanderbilt, The University of Chicago, Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, and more. Jackeline has already been accepted to Notre Dame — no small thing — but she’s keeping her options open until she hears back from Questbridge on her other candidate schools.
Jackeline’s interests range from painting to tennis to good food and helping people, and at this point in her journey, she imagines herself working in a healthcare or health related field. She’s got plenty of time to sort it all out, but for now, dentistry or dermatology seem to be the leading contenders on her short list. Of course, in time, she’ll narrow it down and pursue her goals with the same passion and commitment with which she’s approached everything else in her life. And, in the process, I have little doubt, she’ll bring something very special to our world.