PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Like thousands of other 20-somethings, Jasmine Garcia is graduating from college this weekend. The 22-year-old will get her degree in civil engineering with a minor in math from Oregon State University on Saturday.
“I have 2 more finals this week and then I will be graduating,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I still feel a little bit of disbelief. It’s been something I’ve been working towards quite literally my whole life.”
But her life nearly ended on October 21, 2017. She had taken a term off to complete a 6-month civil engineering internship with the City of Gresham’s Water Resources Division.
Jasmine was the backseat passenger in a Subaru near the intersection of SW Capitol Highway and Freeman. The driver of an oncoming BMW drifted into their lane and slammed head-on into the Subaru, police said.
Jasmine was critically hurt. She broke her back and her ribs, lacerated her spleen and liver, damaged her intestines and diaphragm and wasn’t able to breathe on her own.
She needed more than 25 surgeries and physical therapy at home in Beaverton. She still has some back pain and nerve damage that makes it hard to use her left hand.
But she’s made remarkable progress since the crash.
“It’s kind of difficult to realize how much has happened in such a short period of time. I mean, a year ago I was barely getting back to school, and that, on its own, was insanely hard.”
Jasmine said she’s “always going to be somewhat angry” about the crash but “not necessarily because of what happened to me, but just the fact that people are still” driving drunk.
The driver of the BMW, Garret Scheckla, was also an Oregon State student. He received a short jail sentence and had his license suspended for 5 years. He was also ordered not to have any contact with Jasmine, including not being in the same class with her.
She said she believes everyone knows the answer to drunk driving is not to do it. “But also everyone thinks they’re the excuse, saying, ‘Well, I know myself. I’ll be fine.’ Just order a car, (have a friend) take you home, ask for a ride.”
Her mother, Julia Galicia, said she’s ecstatic and proud of Jasmine. Galicia said she still remembers being in the hospital. “It’s something that’s never going to go away.”
At the time of the crash, she said she was “living every mother’s worst nightmare.” But, she said, it helped shape her daughter in a more positive way.
“It has made her very strong. She has been, but she’s stronger than she was before.”
She echoes what her daughter said about drinking and driving.
“It’s not that hard. We all have apps on our phone — Uber, Lyft, I mean good old Yellow Cab,” Galicia said. “I came really, really close to losing my daughter.”
Now she hopes her daughter is an inspiration for others.
“If you’re going through something as long as you have support and you believe in yourself, you can do anything.”
Jasmine Garcia is the first in her immediate family to graduate from college.
“I’m very excited and very nervous for it but I’m pretty glad to be here,” she told KOIN 6 News.
She will soon be looking for a job but will move back home with her mother right after the graduation.
“I think I’ve earned the right to just kind of take a second and just kind of enjoy what I have,” Jasmine said. “I kind of just want to take a second and appreciate everything that’s happened.”