Hugo Garcia-Villa | A Return to Roots
When Hugo Garcia-Villa was two years old, he moved with his family from Mexico to Tri-Cities, Washington, in pursuit of the American Dream and a better life. Last summer, after becoming the first college graduate on both sides of his family, Garcia-Villa returned to his cultural roots as an intern at the Consulate of Mexico in Boise.
Garcia-Villa, who graduated last spring from the University of Idaho with a degree in human resource management, worked for two and a half months in the consulate’s department of economic and special affairs. He had the opportunity to apply his newfound business knowledge to help Northwest companies explore business opportunities in Mexico.
“The consulate serves as the middle person. If companies want to expand to Mexico or establish a trade relationship, we are their first stop,” he explains. “We link them to the right people in Mexico who can help them understand the international trade laws and provide other information to help them make investments in Mexico.”
During his internship, Garcia-Villa worked directly with officials from ProMexico, a Mexican governmental agency that oversees foreign trade and investment in the country. While Garcia-Villa is fluent in both English and Spanish, he says the experience was a “reality check.”
“The internship helped me see that if I want to work with government officials from Mexico at a professional level, I really need to progress and develop my language skills,” he says.
With that realization, Garcia-Villa returned to the University of Idaho this fall to complete a second degree in Spanish. Garcia-Villa says the extra time has given him “the chance to take advantage of all the University has to offer.” He’s been involved actively in Greek life, business clubs, intramural sports, and committees for diversity action, to name a few.
Garcia-Villa came to the University of Idaho through the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a program for students from migrant or seasonal farm work backgrounds. He says the University’s numerous student organizations and leadership programs—coupled with the academic and financial support services provided through the Office of Multicultural Affairs—were instrumental in his successful transition to college life and have contributed greatly to his overall positive experience at the University.
“The Hispanic community tends to be more traditional, and it can be hard for a lot of families to let go of their kids to come to school,” said Garcia-Villa. “But if they visit campus, they’ll see that the University of Idaho is very welcoming and supportive. It really becomes like a second family away from home.”
Garcia-Villa plans to spend his spring semester studying abroad in Costa Rica to sharpen his Spanish and build his resume.