Ruby Garcia Fulfills Her Promise to Be a Role Model and Positive Influence

“I became a mother as a minor and feel that it positively impacted my life goals,” says Ruby Garcia.

Motherhood not only gave Ruby’s life a purpose, it also strengthened her personal resolve. “I remember all too well what it felt like to be judged and labeled as just another statistic," she says. "I promised myself not to make others feel the way that they made me feel. I promised myself that I would be someone successful in life, a role model for my son, and a positive influence to underserved or oppressed populations.”

She adds, “I wanted to provide emotional and moral support to children who experienced hardship or didn’t feel their voice was being heard. A career in social work meant so much to me; the fact that through my work I could make a difference in one person’s life was a very fulfilling concept.”

Today, her son Orlando, Jr., is 12 years old, and Ruby is happily married to his Dad, Orlando, Sr. “My husband has been very supportive,” she says, “and I am proud to say we have been together for 14 years.” They now also have an 8-month-old daughter.

Of their son, she says with motherly pride, “He loves to build things, solve problems, and has a passion for education, just like his mom. I have explained to him that everything I ever strived to do was for him and want him to be a successful young man. He is in an honors program at the leadership academy, charter school he attends. 

Title IV-E Offered ‘Huge Opportunity’
“I am so proud to say that through the opportunities given to me by the Title IV-E Program, I have been able to show my son that nothing is impossible, and he can do anything he sets his mind to.”

RELATED: Read stories about other CalSWEC alumni

A first generation Mexican American, Ruby says growing up she spoke primarily Spanish. For her, enrollment in the Title IV-E Stipend Program at California State University, San Bernardino was a boon.

“CalSWEC’s Title IV-E Stipend Program was a huge opportunity for me to attain further education. It provided me with the ability to attain a higher-level education and work experience. It allowed me to pursue a career I have a passion for.”

She adds, “I am so grateful for the program. I was educated by very knowledgeable professors and trainers. I was also able to specialize in child welfare. The program gave me the tools necessary to prosper in my career as a social worker. The contract was an advantage, as I received priority when being hired for the county position after graduation.”

RELATED: Read the FAQs about the Title IV-E Stipend Program

Challenges of Forensic Interviewing
Since January 2014, Ruby has held various positions with Riverside County Child Protective Services. Currently she is a child forensic interviewer at the Riverside County Child Assessment Center engaged in work that is both demanding and rewarding. “The challenges involved in being a CPS social worker are many,” she says. “However, as a forensic interviewer, one of the greatest challenges is meeting the needs of the participants of the multidisciplinary team.

“It is also very challenging to listen to the experiences children disclose regarding abuse. Remaining neutral is difficult because many times, I want to reach out and comfort children who have been through such difficult circumstances. I need to constantly remind myself that my part in that child’s life is to fact find and provide appropriate resources as necessary.”

Prior Experience in Probation
Prior to entering the social work field, Ruby’s view of children was as an associate probation officer, a position she held after she earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice, also at CSU, San Bernardino. What she observed made her want to do more, she recalls.

“While working in probation, I had the opportunity to see the outcomes of children who ended up in the criminal justice system. It felt as though there needed to be more proactive implementation to services,” Ruby says.

“While working with juveniles, I noticed many came from broken homes or had experienced being in the foster care system. It helped me realize that working with children before they end up in the juvenile justice system, as well as children who become adults who end up in the justice system, is very important. It is especially important to encourage, support, and guide these individuals in a positive direction or provide with resources while they are still children.”

Satisfaction as an Advocate
Now, as a social worker, Ruby says, “I like the fact that I can help be an advocate for children and be the tool to gather information pertaining to the abuse they endured. I find satisfaction in knowing that the interviews that I conduct with children are utilized as evidence to assist in the prosecution of alleged perpetrators, ultimately helping children feel like survivors, and not victims, of the abuse they have endured.”

Reflecting on her current career, Ruby says, “I love being a social worker and am proud to implement the NASW Code of Ethics daily in my career:  1. Service, 2. Social Justice, 3. Dignity and Worth of a Person, 4. Importance of Human Relationships, and 5. Integrity.”