Tower Director at LaGuardia Airport, Caroline Garcia has a strong connection with her family and a vision for her future built on their hard work.
Caroline’s story started many years before she was born when her mother, Teresa, landed at JFK in 1976. Teresa arrived expecting to meet her Aunt at the arrival gates. She knew no one in New York City, had never been outside of her home country, Ecuador, and struggled to speak English. After waiting and waiting, she soon realised that no one was coming to meet her. She found herself alone in a foreign city, with nowhere to stay and no return ticket to fly home.
On her flight to New York, Caroline’s mother had chatted to the woman sitting next to her. Little did she know how impactful this small talk would be. As she was deciding whether to remain at the airport or catch a cab into the city alone, the same woman from her flight approached her, offered her a place to stay and a job to get started. This was the start of her new beginning.
As with many new immigrants in New York, Teresa soon found a community of other Ecuadorians with similar backgrounds where she could maintain her own cultural traditions while embracing the customs of the new country she now called home. She eventually married a native Ecuadorian and raised her family just outside of Manhattan in Queens.
When Teresa first landed on the tarmac at JFK, on that fateful day in ‘76, she had no way of knowing that 30 years later, her daughter Caroline would start working in the airport tower there, guiding planes and air control while watching people land everyday in The Big City.
Caroline is proud and passionate about her aviation career that she started when she was 18. Thanks to her ‘work’ family, there aren’t many Mondays that Caroline dreads. Working across JFK and LaGuardia, she’s a familiar face around the airport and has many stories to tell. Between watching an entire airport go into quarantine (when a passenger accidently went through one of the side doors into the terminal), and seeing a plane come to a halt on the tarmac to let a mother turtle and her baby turtles cross, she’s seen it all.
While Caroline loves her job, she hopes she’ll return back to school one day to finish her studies in aviation to become part of the air traffic control team that has direct contact with the captains of the aircrafts. Her parents have always encouraged her to test her limits and strive to reach for the highest level in her field. Having both struggled in their youths, they form a united front behind Caroline, acting as pillars of strength and some of the best Pokeno players she’s seen.
Along with continuing her studies, Caroline hopes to visit more of her family in Ecuador to learn and understand more of her heritage and family traditions. Until then, she’ll continue to work at one of the biggest entry and exit points in the United States. One where her parents crossed long ago to start a new American-Ecuadorian generation and one where she’ll continue to pass as she explores the world and grows in every way she can.
Favorite movie: Interview with the Vampire
Most important travel item: Hiking shoes
If you could have dinner with anyone (alive or living) who would it be? Dinner with my grandparents because I never got to meet them, as they passed before I was born.
Favorite city: San juan, Puerto Rico