For Recreation Administration senior, Madelynn Garcia, the decision to come to Fresno State was an easy one. The Whittier, California native was just coming off a successful water polo season at her high school and was later given the opportunity to play division one water polo right here in the Central Valley. She would make history as being among the first-ever water polo players at the University.
“My first year at Fresno State was the first year of the water polo program,” Garcia said. “I was hesitant at first to move away from home, but I knew that if I did not take the leap of faith presented to me, I would regret it for the rest of my life.”
Although Garcia’s senior year in water polo was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is proudly accomplishing another goal – earning her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Special Events and Tourism. Even with a busy full-time schedule as a student-athlete, Garcia has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
She says the desire to succeed in academics and athletics are built within her.
“In the midst of chaos, I always try to create some order for myself,” Garcia said. “I live by a code: dedication, determination and drive. I use these qualities to push myself and achieve whatever I put my mind to. I have a very high standard and I keep myself to that standard.”
Garcia laughs as she reflects back on her initial thoughts of why she initially majored in recreation administration. After being an undeclared major for a while, she was in limbo when it came time to declare a major. She knew what she enjoyed, but didn’t know how that passion played out in the classroom.
“I ended up choosing Recreation Administration at the very last second,” Garcia said. “My athletic advisor called me into her office and told me the time had come and I needed to pick a major… that day. I didn’t have much time to think, but here was my thought process – I have always been a very creative person. I love creating art and event planning can be seen as art! I love bringing joy to people’s lives and recreation brings joy! That’s how I ended up majoring in Recreation Administration.”
Garcia said that quick-thinking decision ended up being the right one, after all. She has grown to love the profession and the courses, and moreso – the experience gained in the program.
“In the Recreation Administration Department, there is a sense of family,” Garcia said. “Everyone knows each other and with that dynamic, learning becomes so much easier. I was able to have a group of people that share the same passion as me with me through my whole education experience.”
Garcia said the knowledge she gained in the Recreation Administration program has built in her a foundation of success, and the support system she acquired has helped her to achieve her future goals.
Up next for Garcia is completing her required internship, which all Recreation Administration students must complete before officially graduating. Although her plans are still in the works, Garcia remains hopeful that she’ll soon be interning at a local winery in the fall, working in special events.
In the future, she hopes to use her internship and academic experience to eventually open up her own business in event planning.
“I want to bring joy to people’s lives,” Garcia said. “I love seeing people smile! I am still unclear of what exactly I want my business to look like, but as I continue to work and gain experience, the picture seems to be becoming clearer and clearer. “
Another thing that’s clear is the pride Garcia has for her new home away from home. Although she is a southern California native, a piece of her heart will always be with the Central Valley.
“I have created so many memories that I will cherish forever,” Garcia said. “From the water polo team to the Recreation Administration Department, I have had experiences that have shaped who I am today. I am proud to represent the Valley and all that it holds.”
Learn more about the Special Events and Tourism option on the Department of Recreation Administration website.