Mitchell Garcia '24
Veteran & Frontline Worker Mitchell Garcia ’24 Aims for John Jay MS

Degree: B.S. in Criminal Justice
Mentor: Richard Pusateri, Military and Veteran Services Manager
Program: Military and Veteran Services
Hometown: New York, NY
Current Role: Special Inspector Law Enforcement Officer, NYC Transit Authority
Career Aspiration: Chief of Emergency Management

Coming to John Jay has been a family affair for U.S. Navy veteran and New York City Transit Authority Special Inspector Mitchell Garcia ’24. “My kids, Jaila Garcia ’24 and Kaeden Garcia ’26, were either already at or applying to the College when I enrolled at age 40. Being able to go to John Jay with them and learning how to navigate this journey has been a beautiful experience,” says Garcia. “I’m applying the knowledge I’ve retained in the classroom out in the real world. I’ve enjoyed my John Jay experience so much that I’m now in the master’s program in emergency management. Because of John Jay, I have grown closer to my kids, become more educated, and I’m advancing in my career.” 

What was life like before John Jay?
I grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan in a very dominant Latino community—my father is Puerto Rican and my mother is Colombian. My father was a merchant marine for 45 years and I wanted to follow in his footsteps and work in public service. I joined the Navy in 2000. The experience took me around the world. I served in the Arabian Gulf, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan. After multiple deployments and over 14 years of service, I returned home. When my time in the Navy was almost at an end, I decided to attend a job fair hosted by New York City government agencies. That’s where I applied to work at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Today, I’m a special inspector law enforcement officer for the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), which is part of the MTA.

Why John Jay?
Beyond the fact that my kids were at John Jay, I wanted to go to a college that would enhance my law enforcement knowledge and skillset. Also, I have had several colleagues who talked about the pluses of a John Jay education and how it helped them advance in their careers. Hearing that sealed the deal for me.

How has John Jay’s Military and Veteran Services Office shaped your journey?
The support you find within this community helps lift you up as a student and makes you feel comfortable at the College. For me, Richard Pusateri, Military and Veteran Services Manager, has been almost heroic, guiding me throughout this academic journey. Every question I had, he’s answered, and if he didn’t know the answers, he’d point me to someone who did. He’s even helped my kids out. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I would have been able to get into the master’s program. Richard guided me through the process, pointing out the classes I needed to take, advocating on my behalf, and encouraging me to pursue my goals.  

What was it like being a frontline worker with the MTA Covid Vaccine Program?
Having served during times of war, I wanted to help as much as I could during the pandemic. The MTA launched a public vaccination program at several train stations throughout the city. At the time, vaccines were limited, so they were almost like precious gold. My job was to ensure that the vaccines, the station, and the medical staff administering the vaccinations remained safe. We guarded them 24/7. The goal was to ensure that members of the public got the vaccine without any trouble. It was definitely a scary time. I was afraid of getting Covid and bringing it back to my parents, who are older.

Can you tell us about your grad school studies and upcoming career plans?
I’m currently enrolled in the master’s program in emergency management here at John Jay. Earning this degree is important to advancing in my career. I’ll be able to use this master’s degree to work my way up the ladder and hopefully become a chief of emergency management one day. I want to make sure that this city is ready for any situation that arises.