"It is not the destination, but the journey that is of utmost significance."

Rebecca Garcia
Major: International Studies
Minors: Classics

Rebecca Garcia is an international studies major and classics minor from South Florida. She is passionate about social change and has participated in numerous social justice intitiatives. She hopes to become a community organizer after graduation, and maybe even run for political office one day!


What’s the best part of being in your major?

Learning the fundamental tools of how to enact viable, systemic social change- International Studies has taught me that anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, or education, has the potential and capacity to become a leader and help to create a more just and equitable society. I also enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of my major, and how it seamlessly it connects to other subject areas, like Africana Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Anthropology.


What is it like to be a Dean’s Ambassador?

It has been my pleasure to have served as a Dean’s Ambassador, and to help extol the virtues of a liberal arts education.


What accomplishments or activities while at the UM College of Arts & Sciences are you most proud of?

I am most proud of having led or participated in various social justice initiatives- to help unionize campus food service workers, to have coordinated and helped to orchestrate #BlackLivesMatter protests, and having formed part of the UM College Democrats team that helped nearly 1,000 students and other members of the UM community to register to vote during this past election cycle.


What is your favorite A&S memory? University of Miami memory?

Some of my favorite memories during my time at the University come from working on the 2008 Barack Obama re-election campaign; it was during this same time that I switched my major to International Studies and decided that political / organizing work was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.


Who or what influenced your A&S education the most? How or why?

To Dr. David Ikard, Dr. Margarita Rodriguez, Dr. Elvira Maria Restrepo, Dr. Lillian Yaffe, Dr. Richard Weisskoff, Dr. Sumita Dutt-Chatterjee, Dr. Merike Blofield, Dr. Pamela Geller, Dr. Louis Marcelin- each of these professors has influenced my education in an impactful way, and has taught me the importance of serving marginalized communities with intelligence, strength, and dignity. To Dr. John Kirby and Dr. Jennifer Ferriss-Hill for teaching me the essentials of Roman and Greek antiquity- as a Classics minor, these professors have supplemented my liberal arts education in the most wondrous ways possible.


What is your main UM extracurricular activity – why is it important to you?

My main UM extracurricular activity has to have been serving as a member of STAND (Students Toward a New Democracy). Within STAND, we believe in community organizing and direct action as ways to achieve systemic social change. STAND allowed me to utilize what I was learning in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations. I am indebted to STAND for helping me to become the person and leader I am today.


What is your favorite place on campus?

In front of the Merrick building, near the Anthropology Department and next to the fountain, there is an enormous tree- I often love to sit at the tables near that tree, relax and clear my head a little bit and for a moment, be one with nature.


How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at A&S?

I entered the university as an English major, but soon switched my major to International Relations- accordingly, my beliefs and interests have changed quite radically. If someone would have told my pre-collegiate self that one day I would be helping to organize on-campus demonstrations or work on presidential and congressional campaigns, I would have laughed in their face. Moreover, if it were not for my Women and Gender Studies classes, I would have never found feminism- an ideology that has helped to assert my worth and capabilities as a woman. And finally, my coursework within the Classics department helped me to discover a love for Latin that remains unequaled.


What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to become a community organizer after graduation, and maybe even hope to run for political office one day.


If you were to offer advice to a future ‘Cane, what would you say?

Step outside of your comfort zone. Advocate for those who have less than you. When you witness an act of injustice, stand up and take action- do not remain complacent with the status quo. Always do the right thing, even when it is not the most “popular” choice. (And take a Latin class!)


Have you studied abroad? If so, share your experiences and what you took from your journey.

I participated in a winter excursion where I traveled to a free trade zone within a small town in the Dominican Republic to learn firsthand about the effects of living wage labor and the importance of respecting labor rights. Every worker in the world deserves a dignified wage and basic respect on the job. The experience helped to solidify my desire to become a labor organizer in the future, to further advocate for labor rights.


Are there any upcoming events that other A&S students should know about?

Each year, the Africana Studies Department organizes the Know Justice, Know Peace symposium- given the current state of race relations in our country, I believe every student should attend at least one event of the symposium to get a real sense of how race issues affect us all, and what we can do to change the system.


Is there anything else you would like to share? 

The road to graduation has been long and difficult, but rewarding in the end. It is not the destination, but the journey that is of utmost significance. One learns what works for them and what doesn’t. I have learned that if I have large assignments to complete, I must compartmentalize the work into feasible amounts. Chopin is some of the best classical music to do work to.  A nice Caramel Macchiato almost always does the trick. The key is to never give up, no matter how hard the journey becomes. You always need to believe in yourself.




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February 13, 2017