Most college students choose their major, but if you asked UW Tacoma Senior Natalie Beth Garces, she might say it was the other way around.
Garces graduates June 11 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing—but that wasn’t always her aspiration. “I used to be very soft spoken and in my shell,” she said.
When Garces first arrived at UW Tacoma, she planned on majoring in finance. “I chose finance just because I knew that it was in demand,” she said. Still, the creative aspects of marketing piqued Garces’ curiosity enough that she participated in the Milgard Invitational Case Competition on Social Responsibility. Her team won second place. “It really showed my capability,” Garces said. “Even my mom was like, 'Wow, Natalie, you can do this.' Hearing her support and validation gave me the confidence I needed to pursue marketing.”
Garces was born and raised in Guam. She immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 and started attending Kent-Meridian High School. In 2016, she graduated with both her diploma and an associate’s degree from Highline College that she earned through Running Start.
Garces came to UW Tacoma in 2016. Her parents wanted her to go to college in the U.S. Her mother, who earned a degree in the Philippines, didn’t want Garces to experience prejudice based on where she received her education. “My mom has been discriminated against because her degree is from the Philippines,” Garces said. “So being the first in my family to attend college in the U.S., I sometimes question myself and my potential. I think that kind of just makes me work harder.”
Part of working harder for Garces meant getting involved on campus. Over the past two years, she has worked as an assistant and coordinator in the Center for Student Involvement, a business senator for ASUWT, the advertising manager at The Tacoma Ledger and the marketing director of the Marketing Society. She was also chosen for the UW’s 2018 Husky 100.
Garces may be graduating, but the 19-year-old isn’t done with school just yet. She starts working on her Master of Science in Business Analytics just days after she crosses the Commencement stage. She’s also working at Microsoft. The technology company—which got wind of Garces because of her work in the business case competition—recruited her to work on their Responsible Sourcing team, which focuses on supplier diversity and sustainability.
Natalie Beth Garces’ time at UW Tacoma has been more than just a marketing-focused education. It’s been a lesson in trusting her own potential. “I can't even imagine where my life would be without my education here,” Garces said. “It's allowed me to discover and be who I am. The support and love I’ve felt here have empowered me to do so much more than I thought I could.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org