Joanna G. Garcia '14

Photo: Joanna Garcia '14My name is Joanna Garcia and I am proud to say I am a Wellesley College alumna of the Purple Class of 2014! Go Purple!

My journey began with my parents who immigrated to the United States in pursuit of a better life.  My mother fled from the raging warfare in El Salvador to Mexico. My father went to Mexico in order to escape the guerrilla warfare that tormented the citizens of Colombia. Mexico was the temporary refuge of my parents until they eventually made it to the United States.

My parents knew that there would be obstacles along the way like discrimination, blisters, exhaustion, and financial hardship, but they embraced the challenges and dealt with the difficulties to provide a better life for my little sister and me. In order to provide for us, my parents sacrificed so that we could flourish. Mami and Papi worked day and night and oftentimes brought us on the job because they could not afford a babysitter. Socioeconomically, my parents struggled constantly and still do to this day. I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifices my parents have made for us to be educated.

I want to give an example of why Wellesley College and the Students’ Aid Society have been a blessing in my life. Four years ago, on a dreadfully hot day in Arizona, a woman pulled up next to our car at a red light and shouted insults at my mother saying, “Go back to Mexico! You don’t belong here! You don’t have papers! You’re illegal! You’re uneducated!  We don’t want you here! Take your family with you!” The woman continued to viciously shout at my mother as I was shocked and paralyzed in the back seat. The woman’s words towards us resonated with ignorance, hate, and racism. There is a Spanish saying, “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” which means every cloud has a silver lining and even sometimes a rainbow. The following day after the incident I arrived at Wellesley for Spring Open Campus nervous and unsure of what to expect. Upon my arrival at Wellesley, I was warmly greeted and welcomed with open arms in a safe space where appreciation and celebration of diversity is valued. I immediately felt connected at Wellesley and gladly accepted Wellesley’s offer of admission for the fall semester.

From the minute I stepped onto the Wellesley campus, Students’ Aid Society immediately played an influential role in my studies. There was a voucher waiting for me so that I could buy my books for classes. Throughout my time at Wellesley, the Students’ Aid Society, along with financial services, have committed funds to helping students like me who otherwise could not afford a Wellesley education and all of its benefits. Thanks to the Students’ Aid Society's compassionate staff who always greeted us with warm smiles and encouragement, many students like myself have never felt ashamed about receiving financial assistance. From tuition grants to annual gifts to the emergency loans and grants for computers, dental work, and family emergencies, the staff is always waiting to assist us. In addition, many of us look very fashionable in the clothes alums donate to the society’s “Clothes Closet” for winter weather and job and graduate school interviews. The truth is we have never felt alone instead we have felt supported. The power of generosity and solidarity from Wellesley alumnae who donate money and clothing continue to enrich our lives. My friends and I were saying the other night that when we have the resources, we are definitely giving money to the Students’ Aid Society so that future generations of Wellesley students benefit the same way that we have.

I applied to graduate school late because I wanted to ensure that my little sister was all set to attend Parsons. I am happy to say that I have just learned that I have been accepted to Lesley University’s master’s degree program in clinical psychology. I am going to use my two majors, psychology and spanish, to treat members of the Latino community who are suffering from mental illnesses. I look forward to the future with great enthusiasm as my Wellesley peers and I start a new chapter in our lives. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Wellesley students, thank you for your belief in other Wellesley College students and me.