Francisco Garcia, ranked sixth academically in his senior class and a cross-country runner, was named the male Scholar Athlete at Wright Tech-Stamford for 2020.
“It was a welcome surprise,” said Garcia, whose focus is in information technology. “It made me really appreciate some of the things I did.”
Garcia, it turns out, specializes in welcome surprises.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the dining area at The Residence at Summer Street, an assisted living facility in Stamford were Garcia is a waiter, he began bringing the food to the residents’ room.
“My manager found out I played the guitar and he asked me if I could play for the residents,” Garcia said. “So I worked morning shift and came back later that day with my guitar. We’d deliver the food to their door and play a song for them.”
So Garcia plays and sings “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day.
“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go …”
He plays “Michelle” by the Beatles. He plays “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by Leadbelly.
He lifts spirits during a time when we need our spirits lifted. Music does that like nothing else and Francisco likes the seniors.
“They weren’t expecting it at all when I first did it,” Garcia said. “They were really happy, smiling, laughing.
“The guitar playing, though, I don’t think it means as much to me as far as helping them. The guitar is fun. I feel I help them more as a waiter, serving them, talking to them.”
Garcia learned to play the guitar when he was 12. He taught himself. He played in his room. He started taking some lessons to correct his mistakes.
“I had performed in front of people before, but I’d never sang and played,” Garcia said. “I played guitar some for a band.”
With sports, school and work, he hadn’t touched a guitar for four or five months when he started playing for the residents.
“What has ended up happening is a co-worker of mine, she was interested in starting a band,” Garcia said. “When I performed in front of the residents, she found out I played. We formed a band. I’ve been practicing. Getting back into it, I’ve learned a couple of things about how I treated it, how I approached the guitar was a bit wrong. I’m learning to enjoy it for its own sake instead of something else.”
In the process, he learned something about welcome surprises. Maybe it’s like Green Day sings, “Make the best of this test and don’t ask why. It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time. It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.”
Francisco Garcia will enter UConn Stamford for a year. Then it’s on to Storrs to study engineering. For now, he will play his guitar.