Sue Fleming, Duval County Correspondent

Freer High School senior Richard Marcus Garcia was recognized as recipient of the U.S. Border Patrol Regional Student of the Month award during a special ceremony, which was held in the high school auditorium last Thursday morning.

Each month the Border Patrol selects a deserving senior student from an area high school as Regional Student of the Month, said Border Patrol Supervisor William Roeske.

"We chose Richard to receive the award due to his academic achievements, his participation in many activities in school, in sports and in his church," Roeske said. "In a letter to us, Richard described himself as hardworking, intelligent and trustworthy; self motivated, generous and caring."

Richard also said one of his role models is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who he has tried to emulate for his integrity, moral soundness and whose work has inspired him, Roeske said.

"Richard also believes the keys to leading a healthy and drug-free lifestyle are to have friends and family who have the same values and not to be afraid to ask for help," Roeske said.

Nominating teacher, counselor Rachel De Los Santos, stated in a letter to the Border Patrol that Richard was an outstanding choice for the honor as he was a role model to other young men and women in the region because of his involvement in many civic and academic activities, Roeske said.

After accepting the award, Richard thanked the U.S. Border Patrol, as well as his teachers and his parents.

"I'm honored to be the recipient of this award and there are numerous factors that have led me to this moment," he said.

"Factor one, the mission statement and core values of the U.S. Border Patrol are vigilance, service and integrity," he said. "They have demonstrated this characteristics to me and have inspired me to follow in their footsteps.

Factor two, is the education which he has received from educators, he said.

"The definition of the word 'teach' means to instruct by perception, example or experience. To the teachers that have instructed me, thank you for the inspiration you have bestowed," he said.

To his parents, Richard said, "they have tolerated parent's meetings, teacher's conferences, late homework, band rehearsals, field trips, permission slips, spending money, fundraisers, messy bedrooms, I need gas money, 'it's not fair,' dirty dishes and the eternal 'whys?'" he said.

"My mom and dad are extremely hardworking individuals," he explained. "They have taught me that I must work hard to get the things that I need and my education is always on their minds."

In conclusion, Richard then asked the student body, "God gave you 86,400 seconds today, have you used one to thank your teachers, parents or friends? Once again, thank you."

Richard plans to attend Texas A&M University majoring in criminal justice and plans to become a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Richard is the son of Johnny Garcia and Lupita Garcia.