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Richard Garcia '15


Richard Garcia

The magic words for Richard Garcia’15 came from his physics professor during his first semester at McMurry University. “Let’s make all of this work,” Tikhon Bykov said in response to Garcia’s concern about his academic and baseball schedule.

He needn’t have worried. Bykov, chairman of the Department of Physics, was more than willing to help Garcia attain his goals and they both are extremely happy it worked out that way.

The admiration works both ways. Garcia is quick to praise Bykov for his knowledge and helpfulness. Likewise, Bykov points to Garcia when telling current students what they can achieve.

With Bykov’s help, Garcia became the first McMurry student to get an internship in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University, which led to his acceptance into A&M’s master’s program. “I was very pleased that he did that,” Bykov said.

Garcia earned a bachelor of science degree from McMurry in physics, with an engineering concentration, in 2015. In May 2017, Garcia earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University. Two months later, he was in his native California starting an extremely prestigious job with one of the world’s top research laboratories as a science and engineering associate with a team working on the Linac Coherent Light Source at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California.

“It all happened so fast,” Garcia said, still settling into his new surroundings. “It’s been a whirlwind.” And, he gives much of the credit for his success and good fortune to his McMurry professors and John Byington, his head baseball coach, and Byington’s assistants Brad Coleman and Steven Yurchick.

Garcia played baseball in junior college for two years after graduating from high school in Hollister, California. He argued with the coaching staff there who felt academics would interfere with baseball. But that wasn’t the way Garcia thought it should work. “I was always putting my academics before baseball,” he said.

And that’s why McMurry was such a breath of fresh air for him. At McMurry, his coaches and professors had their priorities straight.

“Dr. Bykov was a huge factor in my success,” Garcia said, something he learned quickly once he got into the Texas A&M engineering program. Most of the other students had bachelor’s degrees in engineering, while Garcia’s degree was in physics. He soon realized that was not a barrier to attaining his goal. “I definitely had a strong base, a strong core,” he said. “I think they liked that I stood out among applicants.”

His current employer, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) noticed that he stood out, too. After graduating from Texas A&M in May, Garcia went to Santa Clara, California, for his sister’s wedding. He was planning a leisurely drive back to Texas before thinking about a job, but a family friend who worked at SLAC encouraged him to apply for a job there. “I got an interview the next week,” Garcia said.

That obviously went well, too, and the head of the human resources department told Garcia to expect an offer within the next few days. The offer came and he accepted.

Now, Garcia goes to work every day with scientists from all over the world who are working on a project that promises to bring about major advances in medicine and other areas.

And it all goes back to a McMurry professor who said, “Let’s make all of this work.”