Sometimes the unexpected can throw people way off track, and sometimes it can turn out to be a defining moment that changes lives for the better. Ellsworth Community College wrestler Zach Garza and his girlfriend, Carolina Montanez, had their moment when they discovered they were expecting a baby during their junior year of high school in Texas.
When Zarabella Rae Garza was born nearly three years ago, the couple knew that they wanted to stay together and be a family. Garza wanted to continue wrestling, so they began looking for somewhere that would allow him to do that while both of them continued their educations. Ellsworth Community College provided that opportunity for them. "I wanted to find an opportunity that would lead me to bigger places, and Ellsworth has been that for me," says Garza.
Between juggling classes, parenting, and wrestling, the couple has been able to find a routine for them that has not only allowed them to do all of this, but also do it successfully. Garza currently has a 3.938 grade point average (GPA) and Montanez has a 3.6 GPA; both were recently named to the ECC Fall 2018 Dean's List. Asked how he maintains it all, Garza chuckled slightly. "No sleep. I go to class and when I have a break Carolina goes to class and I watch Zarabella. After I'm done with classes and wrestling I want to play and spend time with her. She gets so excited when I come home."
Garza has big goals for himself, Montanez and their daughter. He plans to continue wrestling after graduating from ECC and will eventually earn an Engineering degree. "Carolina and Zarabella will go where I go so I can get my degree, and when I'm done we will go where Carolina needs to go to get the education she needs to be a dentist."
The couple still has family in Texas, but very few colleges in Texas offer wrestling. Garza said they will eventually return to Texas when they have their educations completed. Garza will be the first person in his immediate family to receive a college degree. When asked what other goals he has for himself, he simply says "being a good father."
Thinking about Zarabella's future and what he wants for her, he adds, "I want to set a different standard for my family. You have to get your college degree. That's what I want for her."
Garza says he couldn't do what he is doing with his education, wrestling, and being a father without Carolina's support. "I have to give her a lot of credit. She helps out and sacrifices her time so we can do what we are doing."
Photo caption: Carolina Montanez and Zarabella cheered on Zach Garza at District Wrestling.