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Ilifonso Garcia

Alum focused on public service and giving back to community

After growing up in the Yakima Valley, Ilifonso Garcia joined the Washington State National Guard.

“We did a lot of field exercises and a lot of security and reconnaissance,” said Garcia. “I figured that law enforcement was going to be something that would kind of fit my career path.”

Following his service, he enrolled in Yakima Valley College’s Criminal Justice program and despite his nervousness at being a new college student, he found support from YVC’s faculty and staff.

“The atmosphere [at YVC] was very welcoming,” said Garcia of the experience. “Janet Goodwill — who was running the program at the time — she was very accepting and understanding. I sat down with her and explained to her my career goals.

“From the beginning to end I had nothing but a good experience being here.”

Garcia feels that the foundation he received through YVC opened up new opportunities for his career.

“I was able to get hired at the Yakima County Juvenile Detention Center, as the corrections officer,” said Garcia. “I helped kids transition back from a prison institution, back into their communities. I also worked for the Yakima School District as a resource officer.”

Garcia later moved to the Yakima Police Department, where he has worked as a patrol officer, police detective and currently as a patrol sergeant.

“YVC’s [criminal justice] program offers a lot of opportunities to learn,” said Garcia. “It allows you to go do job shadowing or internships at local agencies, local non-profit organizations to get that exposure. What I find so rewarding [about] what I do right now is the public service. It sounds simple but for me I’ve always had that yearn to help  make this community better.”