Like a good neighbor …

Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014

Alumni serve thousands of clients for State Farm

Richard Glasco
Mike Garcia
Richard Glasco went to graduate school to advance his career in public education. Mike Garcia enrolled in graduate school to become a social worker.

Glasco and Garcia became friends at Our Lady of the Lake University in the mid-1970s. After earning their degrees, they moved on with their lives: Glasco as a counselor at Anson Jones Middle School, Garcia as a casework supervisor for the Texas Youth Commission.

Years later, after changing careers and moving to different cities, they met again, to their surprise, at a convention in San Francisco.

Glasco recognized Garcia. “What are you doing here,” he asked. Garcia put the same question to Glasco. Two old college friends shared a hearty laugh. Each had left professions to become State Farm Insurance agents. The company’s annual convention brought them together on the West Coast.

“It was hilarious,” Glasco recalls. “We had both made the transition to State Farm. But we hadn’t seen each other since we were at Our Lady of the Lake.”

Glasco (MEd 1975) runs a thriving business in Austin. Garcia (MSW 1975) runs a successful business in Eagle Pass. They are among a number of OLLU alumni who work for State Farm, which insures more cars and homes than any insurer in the U.S. and ranks 34th on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies.

Though they made dramatic career changes, Glasco and Garcia say OLLU helped them to become successful insurance agents.

Glasco uses many of the same skills at State Farm he used as a counselor. “One of the great things about counseling and guidance is it’s about connecting with people,” Glasco says. “It’s all about problem solving. That’s all I do here is problem solve. When you are looking at somebody who needs insurance, it’s not one size fits everything. Just like anything else, there are consequences for non-action. I point those things out and let people make informed decisions about what they want to do.”

Garcia, the former social worker, agrees. “When you think about it, counseling is helping people make their decisions. Whether you are counseling about drug abuse or alcohol abuse or about life insurance, your counseling skills help you help people make decisions. The counseling skills I gained at the Texas Youth Commission and in graduate school are very helpful to this day.”

Natalie Reyes

Michael Tarango

Mark Vargas

Nadia Rodriguez
Other alumni who work for State Farm have a wide range of degrees from OLLU. Consider: Alma LaCroix (BS Education 1982), claim team manager in San Antonio. Sedgwick Broomfield (BA Math 1990), supervisor in New Albany, Ohio. Nadia Rodriguez (BBA Management 2002), auto claim representative in Lincoln, Neb. Natalie Reyes (BBA International Business 2010), field marketing analyst in Austin. Dean de la Cruz (BS Electronic Communications 2006 ), business analyst in Bloomington, Ill. German Valle (MBA Business Administration 2004), fire claim manager in Tempe, Ariz. Georgia Vela (BA Management 2006), agent staff in San Antonio.

Hired before he graduated from OLLU, Michael Tarango used his bachelor’s in marketing (1998) to increase his value to State Farm. “The Lake provided me with the interpersonal and communications skills to become effective in my position,” says Tarango, an auto claim representative in Dallas. “My business courses gave me the background to understand the business of insurance. The liberal arts portion of my degree helped me relate to fellow employees, external associates and customers on many levels.”

Mark Vargas may have the most unlikely degree: a bachelor of arts in biology (2007). Even so, Vargas says his education at OLLU benefits him as a customer care coordinator in Atlanta.

“University studies helped prepare me to be an organized individual who can manage priorities,” Vargas says. “It showed me how to work with deadlines and analyze information to produce efficient, quality results.”

Javier Leal used his master’s in social work (2001) to serve as program director at Baptist Child and Family Services. But after a friend introduced him to the insurance and financial services business, Leal became a State Farm agent in 2007.

“I have always said that what I do as a State Farm agent is social work,” he says. “I call it, ‘financial social work.’ My job is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected and realize their dream. The Lake has prepared me for this.”

Glasco did not come to the insurance business through a friend like Leal. He came through a periodical. While glancing through an issue of “Psychology Today,” Glasco stopped at an article about people who enjoyed their jobs. One story focused on a man who sold insurance. The details intrigued. The more Glasco read, the more he identified with the character traits of the insurance salesman.

”That got me the bug,” Glasco says. “I thought, ‘Maybe I could do this and use a lot of my teaching and counseling background,’ which has come in good stead. I still have that magazine article. That was the catalyst.”

Glasco opened his State Farm office in 1983. “I was my first client,” he says. “I wrote a policy on myself.”

Garcia was his own first customer as well. He took out a $250,000 policy on himself in 1982. “I had to make sure I was taking care of my own family,” he says.

Business grew. Garcia became a top salesman and reaped company rewards. He earned “millionaire” trips and made the prestigious President’s Club.

Three decades after joining State Farm, Garcia and Glasco each serve thousands of policyholders in their businesses. And like a good neighbor, they do stay in touch.