Island University Honors Legacy of Dr. Hector P. Garcia on State Recognition Day

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The legacy of Dr. Hector P. Garcia is engrained throughout the Island University through facets of tradition, education, and culture. A local Mexican American physician, World War II veteran, civil rights activist, and founder of the American GI Forum, Garcia fought for the rights of Hispanic Americans and veterans who were denied medical, educational, and housing rights.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi commemorated Garcia’s legacy at an event on Sept. 20, which is also Dr. Hector P. Garcia Texas State Recognition Day, a day of celebration held on the third Wednesday of September in Texas since 2009.

Education is our freedom, and freedom is everybody's business.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia

The event, held in the university’s Mary and Jeff Bell Library, kicked off with the signing of a $25,000 gift courtesy of the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation. The ceremonial paperwork was signed by Cecilia Garcia-Akers, foundation president and daughter to the late Dr. Garcia, along with Dr. Kelly M. Miller, TAMU-CC President and CEO. The gift will be used to support the university’s new arts building in which an exhibit honoring Dr. Hector P. Garcia will be preeminently located to display his collection and share his legacy with students and guests alike. The celebration also included a presentation, “Dr. Hector P. Garcia: Doctor to the Barrios,” by Jacqueline Ochoa, a third-year medical student at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the same school where Garcia received his medical degree.

The Garcia Memorial Foundation is also proud to support the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Fellowship. The fellowship encourages scholarly research using the Garcia Papers, held in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the university’s Mary and Jeff Bell Library. The Garcia Paper’s collection contains more than 5,300 photographs in categories such as correspondence, military service, private medical practice, American GI Forum, and Latino activism.

For the first time since its inception in 2019, the fellowship was awarded to three recipients in a single year: TAMU-CC Master of Arts in History student Richard Barrera ’19, ’25; along with Cecilia Hill and Justin Jolly, both of whom are doctoral candidates at Texas Christian University. Each recipient was awarded a $1,000 stipend.

“The mission of the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation is to afford opportunities to researchers and students alike to study and understand Dr. Garcia’s impact on not only the state but across the nation,” Garcia-Akers said. “If there’s one thing my father stood for it was perseverance. We’ll keep fighting to support his dreams and the education of others.”