The student becomes the teacher who continues to inspire


Article by Linda Relyea

Nick teaching a class with a dynamic, geometric painted set in background

Photo courtesy of John Schall at Los Medanos College

In the ten years since graduating from the Adams State University Theatre Department, Nicholaus "Nick" Garcia '06 has acted, directed and designed sets, but his most rewarding work has been teaching. Currently he is professor and department chair at Los Medanos College (LMC), located in Pittsburg, Calif.

Last spring, Garcia received the César Chávez Inspirational Educator Award from Contra Costa County, which recognizes faculty at the college, at the annual "Celebrating the Life of César Chávez" awards program. Los Medanos College hosts this annual event to honor the life of labor leader and human rights activist, César Chávez.

"My favorite part of teaching is sharing what I love with future artists and investing in the future I want to have with them," Garcia said.

Chair of LMC Dramatic Arts Department Garcia said he reacted with shock and joy when hearing he received the award. "I continue to push myself to be the best that I can be, and more importantly, that I push my students to be better than I am."

He believes the education received in the Adams State Theatre Department prepared him well for his career. "I have used every theatre course I took at Adams State in my career and would not be where I am today without their fantastic, comprehensive and immersive, coursework."

Adams State Theatre Director Dr. John Taylor said: "I had a chance to catch up with Nick last February at a theatre festival and see the work he is doing with his students. I was blown away to witness the man, teacher, and theatre artist he has become."

Garcia models his relationship with his students from the respect and encouragement he received from his mentors, including Taylor and Dr. Paul Newman, emeritus professor of theatre.

"Nick was a great student and a great actor in his four years of training at Adams State," Newman said. "He always kept his eyes on education."

Newman believes Garcia is very deserving of his recent recognition and is proud to have been a part of the process. "ASU has the ability to turn students into contributing members of the educational and entertainment industry," Newman added. "Nick tells me he is happy, and that is what the faculty of ASU's Theatre Program want for all their grads."

nick garcia kneels on stage with students posing as if in a car

Photo courtesy of John Schall at Los Medanos College

As a teacher, Garcia has designed the curriculum for multiple children's theatres across the country and was nominated for the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award by the University of Iowa student body in 2009. He has received the Student Club Advisor of the Year Award from Los Medanos College, and the Merritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in program development from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He has also received recognition in teaching from UC Irvine, The California State Assembly, the California State Senate, and has received two United States Congressional Recognitions for teaching and community service.

Early in Garcia's career in California, he would call Newman with questions about technical issues. "Later in his career, he would email me about his accomplishments," Newman added.

Inspiring his students, as he was inspired as a student, Garcia said: I hope my students take away a deeper understanding of themselves, their community, and the tools to make their dreams possible."

Before accepting the position with LMC, Garcia was the artistic director of Children's Theatre Programming for the George Daily Auditorium, where he designed and oversaw the curriculum for the drama school as well as directed their summer season. He has performed, directed, and designed for venues such as the National Conservator Theatre Center in San Francisco, Alter Theatre Company in Marin, Pella Shakespeare Festival in Iowa, The Miner's Union Theatre in Silverton, Colorado, The George Daily Auditorium in Oskaloosa Iowa, and both the Iowa New Play and Fringe Festivals.

As an actor, Garcia originated the roles of Josiah in Landless by Larissa Fasthorse, Mike in The Fellowship by Ignacio Zulueta, Mateu in Akarui by Jen Silverman, Moises in The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta, and Eben in I am Montana by Samuel Hunter. In 2006, he received the IRAN award for acting for his portrayal in I am Montana.

Garcia is also an accomplished director. His production of Larry Shue's The Foreigner and original devised play Snare won the Meritorious Achievement award for Ensemble Performance, and his productions of August Wilson's Fence, and Federico Bartolo's My Block were regional finalists at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. My Block also received two national awards from the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

A native of Manassa, Colo., Garcia received a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Iowa; where he was trained in Alexander, Meisner, Stanislavski, and Growtowski techniques, as well as mask, comedia del arte, mime, yoga, voice, dialects, and period styles.