Thomas Ray Garcia is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur from Pharr, Texas. He is the author of the award-winning short story collection The River Runs: Stories and co-author of El Curso de la Raza: The Education of Aurelio Manuel Montemayor. He is the founder and executive director of the College Scholarship Leadership Access Program (CSLAP) and an adjunct professor at South Texas College.
At Princeton University, Thomas focused on expanding opportunities for first-generation, low-income college students. He co-founded the Princeton Hidden Minority Council, wrote student blogs on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and received the Ward Mathis Short Story Prize for his U.S.-Mexico borderlands fiction. He majored in English as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.
Thomas pursued his master's degree in English at UCLA, where he taught courses in Rhetoric & Composition, American Literature, and Creative Writing. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Higher Education Administration at UTRGV.
Through CSLAP, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in South Texas, Thomas teaches college access classes and connects near-peer mentors to high school students in the Rio Grande Valley. He founded CSLAP as a volunteer-led summer program at age 19. After graduating from college, he formed and taught a high school course at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD based on CSLAP's curriculum.
In 2022, he ran for the Texas State Board of Education and earned endorsements from Run for Something, Texas AFL-CIO, and Texas AFT. He ran on a progressive platform focusing on expanding mental health resources, updating the state curriculum to address 21st-century learning standards like computer science & dual language, and protecting school worker rights.
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