Wednesday, November 7, 2018

“Thank you for calling Niner Central and The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.”

Appropriately nicknamed the “voice of UNC Charlotte,” Chris Garcia is responsible for this recorded message that greets the thousands of Niner Central customers who call each week.

Garcia is the associate director for customer experience and communications in Niner Central, an Enrollment Management resource. She specifically manages complex issues from student and family inquiries; ensures communications are current for phone recordings during University emergencies, inclement weather or such related issues; and manages communication updates for other campus partners that utilize Niner Central’s communication resources for temporary relief.

Though it launched in November 2017, Niner Central officially moved into its new space in the Cone University Center in March 2018. The full-service contact center incorporates phone, email and face-to-face communication to support student success and retention. The 23 team members provide solutions to both students and families regarding various University services including financial aid, student accounts, registration and records.

Born in Pennsylvania, Garcia moved to Charlotte when she was 3 years old. After growing up in the Queen City, she studied nursing at Central Piedmont Community College. She soon realized, however, she didn’t want to spend her life in that profession and started a job at the State Employees Credit Union, where she worked for 12 years as a supervisor.

During her time at the credit union, Garcia worked at a branch that was on UNC Charlotte’s campus. It didn’t take long for her to be inspired by the University’s atmosphere and culture and to realize that this was something she wanted to be part of. In March 1990, she joined the Financial Aid Department and became part of the great Niner Nation.

“UNC Charlotte has a family feel,” said Garcia. “I feel very loyal to the University, and I’m proud to let people know that I work here.”

Kimberly Laney, director of Niner Central, said, “Her dedication is evident through her personal connection to students and her commitment to our team. She never backs away from a challenge and is relentless in her efforts to remove barriers and create viable options for students.” 

In 2017, Garcia acquired her current role as an associate director where she continues to excel. 

“I constantly receive messages of appreciation from both students and parents that she has assisted,” said Laney. “I also receive messages when students are graduating, recognizing the role she played in their success throughout their years at UNC Charlotte.”

Because of her role in these students’ education experience, Garcia received a student-nominated award from Chancellor Dubois.

Looking forward, Garcia wants to continue building her career in customer service and student services.

“I’m a problem solver,” explained Garcia. “I enjoy helping people and want things to be as easy as possible for our students and their families.”

In fact, Laney often refers to Garcia as “the magician” because she consistently creates solutions to aid students and their families that previously did not exist.

When she isn’t working, Garcia enjoys antiquing and taking weekend vacations with her husband of four years, Gordon Molenaar.

Garcia also has two daughters, Katie Garcia and Emily Kuykendall. Emily married recently, and helping plan the wedding became one of Garcia’s most rewarding hobbies during the past year. Katie works as a senior hair stylist at Ulta in Mooresville.