Maria Garcia is a state recognized television journalist in El Paso, Texas. She currently anchors an hour-long weekday newscast at 4 p.m. and hosts a live news discussion and debate program on Sunday nights.
During ABC-7 at 4, which airs Monday through Friday, Maria interviews newsmakers live and explores the top stories of the day. She's been with ABC-7 since October 2005.
Maria is the only local journalist who examines the single top story of the week or controversial topics in a more in-depth way every Sunday night on ABC-7 Xtra, a live discussion program in which she interviews a panel and takes viewer phone calls and emails.
Aside from anchoring and hosting ABC-7 Xtra, Maria is also a seasoned reporter. You can watch her live reports during the week on ABC-7 at 5 and 6.
The Texas Associated Press has recognized her for her beat reporting on city politics and policy, including the City of El Paso's move to issue health benefits for gay couples. The move dominated headlines, divided the city, launched political campaigns, fueled mayoral and city council recall elections and started a lengthy court battle. Maria was the only local journalist to cover the entire journey for more than two years and received an AP award for her complete coverage.
Her investigative reporting has led to change in public organizations. When Maria investigated what appeared to be nepotism at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, the commander of the hospital established policies that made the hiring process more transparent.
She has reported on the violence in Juarez, including a ride-along with Mexican federal soldiers during the high-risk night shift in the height of the bloody drug war. She's conducted exclusive interviews with governors and congressmen but her passion is talking and interviewing residents in her community about issues that affect their lives.
Becoming a journalist was always Maria's passion. Raised by a hardworking Mexican immigrant mom, Maria would often listen to her tell stories of their life and her ancestors. Maria became so enthralled by storytelling and the impact a single story can have on a person's point of view, decisions and life. She knew she wanted to tell stories when she grew up. Maria's mom still has home video of 9-year old Maria pretending to be a television reporter. Her mom, Maria Elena, would often pretend to be a newsmaker young Maria interviewed.
Fueled by that aspiration, Maria asked for an internship with ABC-7 when she was a junior in college and she got it! She spent four months absorbing all she could during her internship and found a story she was passionate about telling: it revolved around a one-year old baby named Alejandro who suffered from juvenile mylomonocyctic leukemia, a disease so rare only 60 other people in the United States had been diagnosed with it. Even a common cold could turn deadly for Alejandro and his family was in a race against time trying to find Alejandro a bone marrow donor who could save his life. Maria wanted to do the story to share Alejandro's plight with El Pasoans.
After showing the finished story to the ABC-7 News Director, he asked Maria to present it live on a weekend newscast. She did and that Monday morning, KVIA hired Maria. At the time, she was 20 years old and a full time student at the University of Texas at El Paso so she worked part time, behind the scenes and reported on the weekends until she graduated from UTEP in 2008. Then she began reporting and anchoring full time.
Aside from storytelling, Maria loves neighborhoods because neighborhoods are a common denominator for the different kinds of people in a community. She lives in historic Sunset Heights with her dogs Louie and Netty.
Last year, after celebrating a triumph over a life-changing surgery and a cancer scare, Maria organized a massive neighborhood cleanup and park celebration with free food and live music for her community. She also started a trap-neuter-return program to curb pet overpopulation in her neighborhood. And Maria is also helping organize a trunk or treat for children in her neighborhood this Halloween.
Maria's goal ultimately is to make her mom proud. She's the first generation in her family to graduate from college and enjoys mentoring young women who are also trying to break into a professional career from a similar background.