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About Thomas

Thomas Ray Garcia is a writer, educator, entrepreneur, and public servant from Pharr, Texas. 


Thomas 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 board chair of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit College Scholarship Leadership Access Program (CSLAP). He is also the co-founder of Beyond Borders Books, an independent publishing press. Currently, he works on anti-poverty initiatives in the Economic Development Division of the Hidalgo County Judge's Office.

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 1st master's degree in English at UCLA, where he taught courses in Rhetoric & Composition, American Literature, and Creative Writing. He obtained his 2nd master's degree in Higher Education Administration at UTRGV.

Through CSLAP, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in the Rio Grande Valley, 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. He served as executive director from 2019 to 2023, and he currently serves as chair of the board of directors.

In 2022, Thomas 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 statewide curriculum to focus on 21st-century topics like computer science & dual language, and protecting school worker rights.

In 2023, Thomas entered county government to work in economic development. Currently, he leads anti-poverty initiatives for the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force.

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Headshot of Thomas Ray Garcia
Book Cover for The River Runs: Stories
ElCursodelaRazaCover_edited.jpg  |  956-533-6156

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