Culinary genius and Marvel fanatic: Emily Garcia

Emily with her beloved dog Bonbon.

Emily with her beloved dog Bonbon.

By Alondra Romero, Reporter

Living in a household with 7 people people and a dog (a Shih Tzu named Bonbon) may sound chaotic, but senior Emily Garcia is able to manage the ups and downs, and most importantly, have fun. In fact, fun has been a thematic for Emily, who has spent her school years strengthening her relationships with friends, while meeting new ones as well.

“I feel like I’m an open book, I put everything out there. Some people think I’m really serious, but I’m not. I feel like when people see me, they think I’m a serious person who takes their academics seriously. I do care about my academics, but I feel like I’m a very sarcastic person, my mom is an extremely sarcastic person, so I grew up the same way. But all my friends know I’m joking with them, so if anything, I feel like I’m rarely ever serious,” said Emily.

Some of those friends, including senior Gerardo Avila, said, “Emily has always been a serious person on the outside; always putting lots of dedication and effort into her studies, but once you get to know her, she’s such a funny and altruistic person.”

Emily and her best friend, senior Gerardo Avila, at his birthday party. (Photo by Alondra Romero)

“She’s mature, and always does her best to pass her classes. She was always a person that you easily get along with and just a comfortable person to be around with. She’s a laid-back person to be around, and to be able to have a relaxing conversation with too. A kind and optimistic girl,” said senior Evelyn Reyes said.

While friends play a significant role in her life, ever since Emily was a little kid, she has looked up to her mom. With her parents divorced, and her father not being there all the time, her mother had to take on the role of both parents while working two jobs from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Her mother made sure that the family had everything they needed. As both of her parents are immigrants, they did not have the easiest life, and so what motivates Emily today is the ability to have a successful career later on in life. She hopes to provide her parents with the stability they deserve, especially as they near retirement.

Emily also has 4 siblings who are on her mind as she enters adulthood. She hopes to help them in some way as they enter high school and college, even though they are still young (her younger siblings’ ages range from 4 to 8).

Although she spends a good deal of time caring for others, it is the little dog – white with brown spots – that has served as a support for Emily in her times of need. Bonbon has offered true support over the years, including the time during which Emily’s parents divorced; She got the dog when she was around 7 or 8 years old, and when a young child is given the ability to name their pets, they will come up with the most unique names, just as little Emily decided her new pet looked like a toasted marshmallow and therefore named him BonBon.

My dog is honestly kind of a scaredy-cat. He gets nervous around new people, but once he warms up to them, he’s very sweet to everyone. He’s also very spoiled (by me) and loves to be treated as though he were a baby despite being 10 years old now. He’s kind of lazy too: he loves to sleep all the time, which I guess is due to his age,” said Emily.

Young Emily attended Gary Elementary School, an experience she describes as a lot of fun. She liked her third-grade teacher, Ms. J., the most: this enjoyable teacher would read aloud to students as they sat around on a carpet, acting out the stories, something that younger kids loved doing during their elementary school years. As well during her elementary school years, Emily was able to meet a lot of new people with whom she is still friends to this day.

Avila said, “It wasn’t till our fifth grade Lorado Taft trip that I first talked to her. The interaction was pretty hilarious and quite random. The reason I talked to Emily was that I thought she seemed like a very nice person, but I quickly realized she was very shy, as she laughed at me for getting excited about a hand-clapping game. Additionally, I love how our personalities are contradictory to one another, yet we relate to each other a lot.”

“Emily and I were in the same kindergarten class, and, very coincidentally, we have had classes together ever since. She has always been a very sweet and kind person with everyone, which is why we became very good friends, even though our interests are very different,” said senior Paloma Aguado.

Those sentiments were echoed by senior Diana Romero, who has also known Emily since elementary school. Romero said, “I think that we’ve all obviously changed from when we were kids, but something that I can say about Emily is that she’s always been such a kind person. Ever since we were kids, she’s always been such a sweet and welcoming person. I think that she might come off as a bit serious, but she’s really not. She likes to get things done and she wants it done right, which I think is a very admirable quality.”

Emily went and her classmates went on to Leman Middle School, but as many readers know, those years of middle school can be dramatic and harsh. Emily struggled in math, but once eighth grade arrived, was able to pull herself back up. As Emily improved academically, she met even more new friends.

One of Emily’s favorite memories from Leman was the exploratory classes; she liked drama, even though she did not get into acting. She was – and is – also into arts, so in eighth grade, when Emily took a drawing class, she thought it was super fun creating artwork to recreate an album from Bring Me The Horizon at the time.

Emily said, “I chose to recreate the album of that band because I really loved that band and still do. And I am really into music, I constantly have my earbuds in while doing anything. My all-time favorite band would have to be Pierce the Veil. I’ve been into their music since around the fifth grade. And Bring Me The Horizon would also be at the top of my list. I listen to many different artists, so it would be hard to name them all, but a few would be Mitski, The Neighborhood, and Post Malone.”

In high school, Emily was able to continue to develop her interest in art. During freshman year, she had the opportunity to be in a 3D art class, which made it all the more fun because she had three friends in that class. Every once in a while, she would get small injuries when she was distracted, talking to her friends when she should have been concentrating on cutting paper or some other task, but “it was so fun, getting to talk to them every day,” said Emily.

Emily with her family on vacation in California. (Photo courtesy of Emily Garcia)

Sophomore year, before the pandemic started, Emily joined FCCLA, which gave her the opportunity to compete at the regional event in cookie decorating. Her task was to make a whole cupcake look like a cookie in honor of the 75th anniversary of FCCLA, where she managed to earn gold.

Angela Mullins, Family, and Consumer Sciences teacher and FCCLA advisor, said via email, “Emily is a rockstar culinary student as well (she has taken all three levels of Foods classes). She is innovative, involved, and efficient in the kitchen. In Emily’s last and final year of Foods, she earned her MANAGER ServSafe Certification (which is not easy to do!). So proud of Emily and all of her accomplishments as an FCCLA member and Culinary student here at WeGo!”

Emily continues to participate in FCCLA, which revolves around culinary, interior design, fashion design, and child development interests and competitions, though she was unable to compete last year. Now, as an officer of the club, Emily focuses on fundraisers and projects that benefit others.

Emily Garcia is on the officer team for this year’s FCCLA chapter, serving as the club’s secretary. Emily has been a member of FCCLA for the past three years. She has participated in numerous events such as bake sale fundraisers, community service projects such as the fall food drive, and previously competed in a cookie cake competition at the regional level. Although Emily chose not to compete this year, she has still attended our meetings, voiced her opinions, and came up with new and improved ideas for our club!” said Mullins.

While the club currently meets once a month, she hopes they can increase that number in future years. Though Emily, who graduates this year, may not see the change in schedule, she is glad that the club is working to improve and gain numbers. 

It’s a fun club that isn’t as ‘demanding’ as other clubs because members meet once a month. We do many things throughout the year, our most popular events being the can drive and the St. Patrick’s Day root beer floats. It gets super fun during competition time, and you can compete under Culinary, Fashion, Interior Design, and Child Development – however you don’t have to take any of these classes to join the club, it is open to everyone,” said Emily

FCCLA sponsor and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Brittney Bauer said, “FCCLA is known as a competition-focused club. Emily is adding the component of social-emotional involvement in order to get the club to become more social and not just competition-driven. As one of the club’s officers, Emily is planning activities for the club, such as planning bake sale items like our St Patrick’s Day desserts. We are going to do a spring bake sale soon. We have enjoyed spending time as a club after school baking together.”

Through her leadership role in the organization, Emily has focused on making the club “social and not only about the competitions.” 

“Emily Garcia can always be trusted to get her task done. As a student, Emily is compassionate about the school and the events run at school. She is willing to work hard to get a great outcome.” said Bauer. “Emily will be missed, as she is a senior this year. WEGO FCCLA was lucky to have her in our club.”

When a choice was provided to students at West Chicago Community High School – to go online or attend classes in-person last March/April – Emily chose to stay online, even though Zoom lessons were not her preference. She was able to socialize with her peers from home, though. She recalled how chaotic it would get in the Zoom chats, when someone would start talking about one thing, only to go completely off-topic. 

While Emily does focus on her studies, sometimes she has to do what she loves: watch anime and Marvel. She got herself into anime in middle school with the famous Naruto. If ever someone needs to talk about anime (or Marvel), then Emily has all the information.

“I can talk about anime for like a long time. My parents grew up on anime. My mom wasn’t that big of a fan, but the one I remember watching at home all the time was Saint Seiya. That was one I kept watching all the time, I keep rewatching, but once I got older, like my dad – he’s a big anime fan – he doesn’t get super involved in the shows, but he likes watching it, he‘s watched more than me.  In middle school, I kinda got more into it, so one of my first ones was, like a lot of other people, Naruto,” said Emily.

Although Emily has a soft spot for Naruto, Attack on Titan was the first anime she watched. As she described the plot twists and art style, she said, “It’s so good… I easily enjoy things, but that one has me a little bit obsessed.” 

Her favorite character from the show is Eren Yeager: while all the characters are well-developed, she does not like his half-brother,  “Zeke who is Eren Yeager’s half brother, I can’t stand him, I know he’s a fan favorite, but I just can’t stand him. He’s a good character, he’s just not likable, because he leads to the death of a ton of people in the show, he killed one of the big characters, Erwin, he killed him and I liked him, so I don’t like [Zeke].”

Bonbon, last year, at the beach. (Photo by Emily Garcia)

The entire Garcia family follows the Marvel movies. The first one Emily watched was Spider-Man, who quickly became her favorite superhero – just a guy in a mask, swinging around. Emily would consider him a bit of a “nerd”, which she finds appealing. Tom Holland is undoubtedly the best Spider-Man, but  Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield rank highly too.

“Ever since we got into that, we’ve seen every single movie as it was coming. I think I’ve seen most of the movies in the theaters. I think the first movie that we saw in the theatre was The Avengers. I thought it was so funny, and it brings in Loki, and in my opinion, he’s the best villain, he’s my favorite villain. He’s not exactly the worst, but he’s done a ton of bad things, and he’s also Thor’s brother so I really like him,” said Emily.

Emily believes that the best year for Marvel to come out with movies/shows was in 2018 as she said,” We got Ant-Man and the Wasp, I love that movie, Black Panther, Infinity War which blew everyone away as the Avengers lost.” 

Although not part of the MCU, Emily also enjoyed the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. “I thought that movie was really cool. It’s also one that’s up there, one of my favorites,” said Emily.

While her friends may not always share her Marvel enthusiasm, they value her loyalty and character.

“I would say that Emily has grown a lot from when we were younger, but she remains the person I can most count on,” said Avila. 

And as Romero said, “I think that everyone needs an Emily Garcia in their lives.”