Lizy Garcia isn’t waiting for a degree to start working: the sophomore majoring in community leadership and civic engagement has been at it for years.
Garcia was a member of the Huskie Service Scholars, which required 300 service hours her freshman year, and DREAM Action NIU, a student organization that advocates for the rights of undocumented students and the immigrant community. Along with volunteering at Feed’em Soup project and Conexion Comunidad, she worked as a Safe Passage intern, Northern Ambassador and 4-H liaison while still managing to work part-time at the University Bookstore.
“Lizy effectively copes with competing priorities,” said Sandy Lopez, of NIU’s Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. “She is a dependable student, worker and volunteer that has an impeccable work ethic both on and off campus. Beyond that, her positive attitude has managed to shine through while she has juggled her work, volunteering, studies and family time.”
A first generation college student of immigrant parents, Lopez said Garcia “epitomizes the words strong work ethic, passion, and a perseverant spirit.”
“She fully immersed herself into the NIU community realizing that she had to be engaged in a variety of organizations in order to excel both academically and socially,” Lopez said.
Garcia, who has lived in DeKalb since age 5, is as passionate about her hometown as she is about NIU.
“Being part of the community means collaborating, being accepting and persistent,” Garcia said. “I have had all of my schooling done in this great town. If it wouldn’t have been for my mentors – which were NIU students – I don’t know where I would be right now. This is where I learned what collaborating was about.”
As a teenager, she was afforded a variety of opportunities, and that’s not something she takes for granted.
“Growing up I was always given the right type of mentoring and opportunities that have lead me to where I am today,” she said.
“However, not many other Latino students get the same. Many times these students face obstacles that are hard to overcome and even if they can get through them if they do not have the right type of support they fail and go down the wrong path. This is where my education and my experience at NIU will help me fulfill my personal goals and help the DeKalb community.”
by Jane Donahue