Isabel Garcia (BS15) Awarded Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Isabel Garcia (BS15) Awarded Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Isabel Garcia

Isabel Garcia, a SESP social policy major who graduated in March, received a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellowship. Garcia will be working with an education policy organization in Mexico next year.

Starting in the fall, Garcia will be affiliated with Redes de Tutoría, an education group that focuses on participatory education and mentoring to improve and encourage learning. “It aims to create a network of mentors within a community, and is based on the assumption that everyone is capable of being both a student and a teacher,” says Garcia.

“I initially became very interested in the Princeton in Latin America fellowship because it offers the unique opportunity to work with an NGO whose mission is to serve the community from the ground up,” says Garcia.

When Garcia was studying abroad in Chile, she worked with a community health organization focused on local participation and empowerment. “I immersed myself in this participatory model, and learned that the most direct way to teach, and learn, is to initiate dialogue. I view my engagement in both health and education not as parallel tracks, but rather as synergies,” she says.

In addition, because of her Mexican background, and regular visits to Mexico, Garcia has a personal interest in Latin America and a desire to live there for a time. “I plan to embrace the PiLA fellowship as an opportunity to immerse myself, aware that I will be serving as an ambassador for the U.S. both inside the classroom and out, and equally aware of my unique responsibility to serve as a Mexican ambassador upon my return to the U.S.,” she says.

Garcia credits SESP with preparing her for her PiLA year — beyond just providing her with a strong foundation and understanding of the complexities and functions of different education systems. “I believe my work with SESP moves beyond the academic, and into the interpersonal,” she says. “So much of the SESP curriculum is influenced by group work, peer-to-peer relationships, and interacting with the local Evanston community. I believe these community centric, and inter personal skills that I gained from SESP will be incredibly valuable when fostering a sense of empowerment through education.”

Looking toward her future goals, Garcia believes that her experience in Mexico will give her the knowledge and language skills necessary to be conversant about health and education issues in Spanish, which she sees as a key asset to achieving her goal of becoming a health educator within Latino communities in the U.S. Eventually she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health and then work in public policy “to create the structural change needed to minimize health disparities and increase health literacy.”

At Northwestern Garcia has been involved with extracurricular activities including the Dolphin Show, Purple Crayon Players, Dance Marathon, Pi Beta Phi and the Brady Scholars Program.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/13/16