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A Commitment to Philanthropy

Inspiration comes from within the family on Esports project

Alfredo Garcia ’03 with his wife Jennifer and two children, Isabella, 15, and Maxwell, 8. 

For Alfredo Garcia ’03 and his family, giving back is just the right thing to do.

Nearly 20 years after graduation, Garcia maintains strong ties to the East Stroudsburg University community. His ongoing gratitude to the university for helping lay the foundation for his current success and forging some important friendships continues to drive his involvement as both a donor and ESU Foundation board member.

Garcia hails from Venezuela. He came to the U.S. as an exchange student at Pleasant Valley High School in Brodheadsville, Pa., and earned top grades. When it was time to look at colleges, Garcia had a clear choice. “It was either attend ESU on a full scholarship, or go back to Venezuela,” he says. 

While a student at ESU, Garcia kept with family tradition and majored in economics. He also minored in French and completed a work-study in the language department— something he says he would not have been able to do in Venezuela. “[Universities] do not allow you to expand your knowledge beyond what you’re studying,” he explains. Garcia got involved in student life, writing articles for the business school’s newspaper, and forming friendships with several members of ESU's men's soccer team, many of which endure today.

In addition to soccer, Garcia has been a strong supporter of ESU’s Esports Lab campaign thanks to his son Maxwell, who first introduced him to this emerging field. “My son, who is now in third grade, is very involved with video games. I told him he can’t play video games all day, and he asked, ‘Why?’ When the new video game console came out, he said he wanted to build his own computer [for gaming]. His love for it just opened my mind.” As a Foundation board member, Garcia knew ESU was developing an Esports program.

The new lab will create an innovative game-based learning environment that develops new learning models, specifically in emerging digital media technology fields where STEM principles can be applied. ESU will purchase state-of-the-art computers, software, gaming furniture, and equipment for the lab space, which will be housed on the first floor of Rosenkrans East.

“That campaign was in need of some funds to get fully funded. I was in a position to help. It is my understanding the facility will be a place where kids can play video games but also learn the business, so they get both the business and tech sides. This will be the future for a lot of these kids, so I decided to get involved in this campaign.” Soccer remains Garcia’s strongest connection to ESU. He had connections to ESU’s program before he even got to campus. “When I was an exchange student in high school, I was part of a program called PEACE (Pro-American Educational and Cultural Exchange). That program brings kids from Mexico and South America to Pennsylvania. At the end of the program, all the exchange students went to Boston where we learned from each other and exchanged stories. One of the other kids was a student from Mexico, and he went to ESU on a full ride. He played soccer. When I came to ESU, he was the first person I reached out to because I didn’t know anyone.” That “other kid” from Mexico was Jorge Chapoy '03, one of the best players ESU has ever seen; he was inducted to ESU's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

Garcia says soccer “is not a fraternity, but the camaraderie is just like it. The current coach, Rob Berkowitz is a great friend of mine." Former coach Jerry Sheska '68 M'81 is another longtime friend, and Garcia is active with the campaign for Sheska Soccer Stadium. The new stadium is slated to be built in the heart of campus adjacent to Eiler- Martin Stadium, site of the former baseball field. When complete, the stadium will attract top men's and women's soccer talent to ESU, aid in admissions for student-athletes, and provide a home facility where alumni, family, and fans can attend games and events. It will feature a new NCAA regulation turf soccer field, perimeter fencing, spectator seating, field lighting, a press box, scoreboard, and sound system. Garcia feels this project— a state-of-the-art standalone facility—is essential for taking the soccer program to its next level. He feels former players and students should be especially moved to contribute to assist the next generation of ESU soccer.

Not all of Garcia’s biggest life lessons came from the classroom or his affiliation with the soccer team. Some simply came from the college experience.

“Independence [was a big lesson] for sure,” he recalls. “That’s a major goal for at least the first year or two of college—to teach you how to be independent and manage your budget, manage your laundry, food, classes, et cetera. For many it’s the first time you’re on your own and having to manage things on your own.” Professionally, Garcia’s career started with a student internship at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe—a break that came about through an ESU connection, Richard Cherry, who would be a pivotal figure throughout Garcia’s life. Since then, he has been mindful of recognizing and seizing new opportunities. “When I studied economics, economics itself was not the door opening I needed. It was a series of things that led to whatIdonow.It was a path in which I followed the opportunities where they led me,” he explains

Garcia lives in Nazareth, Pa., with his family—wife Jennifer and children Isabella, 15, and Maxwell, 8. He recently joined Snowden Lane Partners, a New York City- based wealth advisory firm, as a senior partner, managing director. He previously worked at Wells Fargo as an advisor and managing director. The Garcias are committed to philanthropy. “When you have success in your professional life and you’re in a financial position to have a little extra, you have to decide what to do with that extra. My wife and I feel we should help. There are so many needs out there. What do you pick? I felt I owed the college something because I got something out of it. I think it’s an evolution in someone’s life. You have to feel it, and I have,” he says.

His involvement and dedication to ESU remains a constant. Furthering his commitment to the university’s soccer program and honor those who o ered him opportunities, Garcia established the Richard R. Cherry Men’s Soccer Annual Scholarship in 2018 and continues to contribute annually. “Cherry was not only the person that gave me that first internship, but also the person that got me my first job and eventually the opportunity to be a business owner, when we became partners in the Broadway Café, a restaurant/bar in Gilbert, Pa.,” Garcia says. Cherry was also active with youth soccer programs, so they shared some important common ground.

“I named the scholarship after him because he was such an advocate [for soccer],” Garcia says. “I started the scholarship to help out the program and get better players involved. When the new facility came about, I pledged some funds for it. I brought some of my friends into the program. Part of my giving back to the school is giving back to the program.”

Garcia says everyone can give back in some way. The key is to find that cause or organization a person identifies with and relates to. “I don’t think saying giving to one particular place is right. Each person should feel a place or cause is worth their money and time. There are hundreds— thousands—of nonprofits to which you can donate.” 

Esports Lab

With fundraising complete, gaming and digital media students will discover a new way to learn

Looking to provide students a pathway to a future in the Esports industry, a fundraising campaign to build an ESports Lab in Rosenkrans East was completed by the East Stroudsburg University Foundation in 2020-2021. With nearly $225,000 raised for the project, the Esports Lab will create an innovative game-based educational environment that develops new models of learning, specifically in emerging digital media technology fields where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles can be shared. Funds raised will be used to purchase state-of-the-art computers, software, gaming furniture and equipment for the lab space. Plans and design for the space are now under review.