Vivian Garcia is a second-year majoring in economics in the College. She is currently the chair of the UVA Student Council Service Committee and has volunteered through Madison House at Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and Greenbrier Elementary School C.L.A.S.S. Program. In her free time, she works at Asado and is a member of the Pi Beta Phi Virginia Epsilon Chapter.
How did you first get involved?
Since high school, I have been involved in many different service projects. I was the secretary of my school's Key Club, an international service program, and volunteered in the Headstart Program, Mobile Hope, Good Shepherd Alliance, D.C. Central Kitchen, and other local projects in my community. I was also president of my DECA chapter, an organization that prepared students for college and careers related to fields such as marketing and business. We had several events where proceeds went to a local retirement home and animal shelter.
What has been most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect of my volunteer work is realizing how much one person can truly help someone or change someone's day. Before volunteering at Loaves and Fishes, a Charlottesville food pantry, I was unaware of the Hispanic presence in the city of Charlottesville. Through volunteering with this community parner, I became a Spanish translator for some of the families who were registering or looking for food. Without a translator, these families could have been given the wrong information which would have impacted their ability to access food or the amount of food they would receive. This one small job changed so much for them and made me realize how important it is to use your skills and abilities to help someone close to you.
How do you plan to be involved in the community in the future?
I plan to stay involved in some way with the Hispanic community wherever I end up and to keep helping this community any way possible. Being bilingual is a skill I have not used frequently, but during my time at UVA, I have realized how important it is. I also want to make sure that my future family gets involved in the community in a way that teaches them the importance of giving to those who might not ask for help, but would appreciate it nonetheless.
How would you encourage others to get involved?
This is my first semester as chair of the Student Council Service Committee, and I've learned that leading by example is the best way to motivate those around you to get involved. If you are passionate about service and helping in the community, your direct circle will pick up on your energy and go forward with that example.
What is the greatest class you have taken at UVA?
The greatest class I have taken at UVA is WGS 2100: Introduction to Gender Studies. This class opened my eyes up to issues not only feminists care about or fight for, but issues that should be fought by everyone in society. I believe it should not be a woman's job to gain equality or a voice, and it should not fall to the men of society either. This change will only occur when society as a whole sees the importance of these issues and chooses to fight together.
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?
If I could do one thing to make this world a better place, I would try to radiate love and happiness to everyone I meet and hope that it gets passed along. I have found that the one thing that gets me through any hard times in life is the love and support of the people around me. Seeing how much can change when you live in that environment is enchanting. I only hope everyone in the world could experience this warmth and pass it on so more people can be encouraged by it.