For more than two decades, Victor Garcia has been studying transnational Latino farm workers in southeastern Pennsylvania, California, and Texas and their struggles with rural poverty, labor organizing, addiction-related health problems, and other issues. He has found many of these problems are set in motion by a number of complex factors that arise when the men leave their families and communities to find work in the United States.
Garcia has served the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute (MARTI) in many roles, most recently as director of the program. At MARTI, Garcia and fellow faculty members conduct addiction-related research across many populations and develop better training for prevention and intervention programs. He has secured 17 grants, many of which have helped to fund MARTI’s initiatives.
Through his work with Latino populations in this region, Garcia has noticed another challenge: lack of higher education of its youth. Garcia is working to change that. Through community-based outreach with the IUP admissions office, he recruits Latino students from many of the communities he has worked with in his research.
But his efforts don’t stop there. Garcia realizes the challenges these first-generation college students face once they are away from their families and has developed and implemented an on-campus retention program called Caring about Latino Student Achievement (CALSA), the first program of its kind in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Garcia plans to revisit his data on substance abuse treatment programs found in transnational Mexican communities in southeastern Pennsylvania and publish his results in a new book and in journal articles. He will also re-examine and publish finding about three Alcoholics Anonymous-based treatment programs used in Pennsylvania and Mexico for this transnational population. His substance abuse research has been funded by three major grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Victor Garcia was selected as the Distinguished University Professor for the 2013–14 academic year.