Diego Garcia is a 17-year-old senior at Bishop O'Connell High
School in Arlington and a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in
Herndon. At an age when most students would be happy with the
traditional family vacation at the beach, Garcia has traveled
to 52 different countries. And it's not the usual
destinations; his favorite place was Egypt, and he just
returned from India.
Garcia's mother, Andrea, works for United Airlines and that
job has perks. The family, including his father, Jorge, gets
to fly anywhere the airline flies, on standby, for a very
He was in Egypt around the time of Arab Spring, the
democratic uprising that began in 2011. He also had a
front-row seat to the Palestinian uprising in Israel - the
Politics, both national and international, has always
"I love politics," he said. "I'm a news junkie."
This summer he will intern for the House Energy and Commerce
That passion for politics drove him to run for student body
vice president, which he won. He also organized a voter
registration effort at the school that got about 86 percent
of eligible students registered.
Garcia has been a team member on several academic competition
teams. He was a member of O'Connell's Academic WorldQuest
team in a regional competition sponsored by the World Affairs
Councils of America. The team answered questions on current
events and world affairs. In preparation for the competition,
Garcia studied the history of Oman. The group came in third
among 20 teams from the Washington area.
Garcia also participated in a business case competition at
the University of Virginia. His team analyzed a business
model and presented a critique.
As president of the Stock and Finance Club, Diego has a
podcast, Knightly News, that gives stock tips and discusses
current affairs. The club doesn't invest real money, it's
just practice, he said, adding, "It's fun to do the
His favorite reading materials are <>The Economist, The
Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker.
Academics are always in the forefront for Garcia. He's a
National Merit Commended Scholar and he will attend Harvard
University this fall to study international relations.
In preparation for college, Garcia will join other incoming
freshmen at a special weeklong wilderness program designed to
help them adjust to the academic rigors of Harvard. There is,
of course, freshman orientation, but this is deeper.
"I feel like the First-Year Outdoor Program will allow me to
actually make lasting connections with the people I'll be
spending the next four years with," he said.
Garcia said his experiences at O'Connell have shaped him in a
"(O'Connell) has allowed me to shine," he said.