UMSL Business Blog

Passion Equals Purpose For Dr. Tessa Garcia-Collart

Written By: Eboni Valentine

Paying it forward and helping to break down barriers is what drives Dr. Tessa Garcia-Collart. She is a marketing professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the College of Business. Her teaching career spans from 2017 to the present. She has been at UMSL for three years where she teaches Principles of Marketing (undergraduate) and Brand Management (graduate). Dr. Garcia-Collart finds the most passion in providing knowledge to others, specifically minorities, that helps them to grow and succeed.

Dr. Tessa Garcia-Collart participates in activities outside the classroom, where she can work with students and the community. One of the organizations that she works with where she found tremendous joy, is The Ph.D. Project. The Ph.D. Project is an organization that promotes diversity in the classroom. Their objective is to aid and empower Black/African Americans, Latin and Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in their journeys toward earning a Ph.D. to become a professor or business leader; overall promoting diversity in academia. While working on her MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, a professor (who was involved with The Ph.D. Project) saw her potential and encouraged her to pursue a Ph.D. in Business. She chose to apply to the Ph.D. program at the Department of Marketing in the College of Business at Florida International University, and was accepted.

During her time with The Ph.D. Project, Dr. Garcia-Collart served as President and Vice President of the Marketing Doctoral Student Association. She enjoyed her time serving in leadership positions and working with faculty mentors. Dr. Garcia-Collart is now providing faculty support to new students in the program. Reflecting on her time as a newcomer to now, she said “I’m very passionate about this organization and its mission…As a faculty member, they know that I have their backs and they can reach out to me whenever needed”. Not only does she support the program through faculty mentorship, but she is also constantly invited to give presentations and attend conferences and other events.

In addition to The Ph.D. Project, during her Ph.D. student years, Dr. Garcia-Collart was admitted to the McKnight Fellowship. This program has similar objectives as The Ph.D. Project – to promote diversity in the classroom by helping underrepresented minorities earn their Ph.D. and fund research programs. Through the McKnight Fellowship program, she received more support to complete her Ph.D. along with professional development activities. Currently, she makes time to attend events and connect with students in the program as much as possible.

When asked about the importance of professors and their involvement in the community, she spoke about her parent’s educational background and how they promoted education in their household. Dr. Garcia-Collart saw her parent’s journeys and how the people in their lives took a chance on them. She said, “It’s a lot about paying it forward…someone years ago took a chance on my mom, who then took a chance on me, and you want to keep that ball rolling…it gives me satisfaction, joy, and that sense of paying it forward, it is my duty”. Dr. Garcia-Collart feels a sense of exhilaration when connecting with students through mentorship, and eventually seeing them blossom and achieve their goals over time. She made it clear that she will continue to support and mentor the next generation, as previous professors and mentors did for her. Dr. Garcia-Collart seeks to continue giving back in the same way.

As a way to engage with UMSL students in making a positive impact in the local and global community, Dr. Garcia-Collart promotes supporting small businesses through marketing strategies. In her “Brand Management” graduate course, Dr. Garcia-Collart leads students to develop marketing strategies for small brands that need brand marketing support. At the end of the course, students present their strategies to the small business owners and executives, who then implement the student’s proposed strategies. Dr. Garcia-Collart’s students get the opportunity to help brands in the United States and across the globe grow through their proposed brand and marketing strategies. She believes this is a wonderful way for students to use critical thinking skills and it exposes them to real-life situations in the business world. Dr. Garcia-Collart’s passion for impactful research, students’ success, minorities and opportunity, and helping the next generation of scholars, is the fuel that drives her every day in life and career.