Student: Andrea Garcia, Senior
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY CLUBS AT MASON?
So, it is my last semester at Mason. And basically throughout my time at Mason I have been super involved. Last year I was the president of the Hispanic Student Association (HSA) and that’s basically what I have been involved in the most at Mason, the Hispanic community. Right now I don’t have any [executive] board leadership positions just because it is my last semester, but I’m still very involved in the organization.
WHAT DOES BEING INVOLVED IN THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY MEAN TO YOU?
Well, I think it’s not just about planning events and making sure things run smoothly, it’s really just about making sure you’re making an impact in the community… So whether it’s doing service projects or community service for the community [or] anything really that could help our people—and by ‘our people’ I mean Hispanic people, not just that but anyone in general, but that’s mainly who we target.
WHAT DOES BEING HISPANIC MEAN TO YOU?
I feel like it’s being culturally aware of your background…I personally grew up, my stepdad is Caucasian so growing up it was — I didn’t really have a lot of Hispanic friends, so I really came to college because Mason is really diverse and my hometown wasn’t. So, it’s really just being in touch with your roots, your culture, your heritage, the language, the music and everything. And like I said, also just supporting your people and standing for causes and things that are going to better your community.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING AT MASON?
I would definitely say the friendships that I’ve made…the friendships, the people, and HSA was super big for me. The people in HSA became like my family, my second family—my home away from home. So, a lot of times people say Mason isn’t really—there’s not much to do there but I think it’s really once you find what you like and your people, you learn to love it.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER HISPANIC UNDERCLASSMAN?
I think, more than anything, get involved. I think that’s something that when I was a freshman and had just come to Mason it’s something that I heard so much, so I’m glad that I took that advice. Definitely get involved, don’t be scared to go to events because when I first started to go to events I was alone….more than anything, get involved. Put yourself out there, because that’s when you’re going to make the most memories and make the most-meaningful friendships.
Faculty: Edward W. Maibach
WHAT DO YOU DO AT MASON?/WHAT DO YOU TEACH?
I direct Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. At the center, we conduct research on public engagement in climate change, and we test methods of enhancing public engagement. For example, through our Climate Matters program, we produce broadcast-ready materials that nearly 600 TV weathercasters around the nation use to educate their viewers about the impacts of climate change in their community.
I also teach various graduate courses, including a seminar on climate change communication, another seminar on social marketing and two doctoral-level courses of social-science theory and research.
WHY DO YOU LIKE TEACHING WHAT YOU TEACH?
I have a strong conviction that climate change is both the most serious public health challenge facing human civilization, and our greatest opportunity. If we embrace the challenge and quickly create a 21st century clean-energy economy, human health and prosperity will continue to improve—as it has for the past 200 years. But if we fail to rise to the challenge, we will unleash a slowly unfolding public health catastrophe that will last for many hundreds of years. Teaching students to use communication in service of humanity is one of my great joys.
WHAT IS A HOBBY OF YOURS?
I’m passionate about running. Outdoors—never on a treadmill. Cycling and hiking too. Actually, I’m down with most outdoor physical activities.
IF THERE WAS A FIRE AND YOU COULD SAVE ONE THING FROM YOUR HOUSE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My family, but perhaps that’s obvious. Assuming they get out before me—which is a good bet—I suppose I’d rescue the cats (even though they’re largely ambivalent about me).
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER JOBS OTHER THAN TEACHING?
I took a 12 year self-funded sabbatical to work in the real world — in the private sector (as Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli), and in government (as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute).
WHAT WAS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?
I was minding my own business as a public health professional when climate change found me in 2006. Once I understood, everything changed.
WHAT IS A GOAL OF YOURS?
A future for my children and grandchildren—and for yours—that is as blessed as the life I have led.
Alum: Elizabeth Baires
WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
I work at the Center for Social Justice at the National Education Association. I serve as the Senior Program Assistant to our Senior Director.
HOW DID BEING A PART OF MASON DREAMER’S AFFECT YOU?
It has impacted my life and my work tremendously. First and foremost, it taught me how to be a part of a team that served to elevate the voices of folks who didn’t have the proper platforms to showcase their experiences. It taught me how to listen, before I tried to help aimlessly. It truly taught me so much about myself and my community. The list goes on. I still to this day use the skills that I learned from my team, and the folks that we worked with.
WHAT IS A HOBBY OF YOURS?
In my spare time, I organize with a group called La ColectiVA. La ColectiVA is an inclusive collaborative led by gente Latinx who are committed to upholding social justice and equity. I also love the outdoors, and am committed to reclaiming the outdoors as a Latinx woman. I love to climb mountains and hike. I just truly enjoy reconnecting with our land.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER HISPANIC/LATINO STUDENTS AT MASON?
- Take your time.
- You are already great.
- I know a lot of us have quite a lot of pressure from our parents and families to be successful right now, but remember to be happy, and to take care of yourself. We cannot serve our people or be great for anyone if we are not great for ourselves first.
- Remember that everyone in your life is a gift and a lesson! I learn so much from the people that I can’t stand working with.
ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THE MASON COMMUNITY IN ANY WAY? IF SO, HOW?
I still try to support the Mason DREAMers from time to time. Life gets very busy after you begin working towards your dreams. No excuses though. I connect when I can, and I still love watching them win.
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE?
I always bring charisma, if nothing else, to the table.
WHO WAS AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE? WHY WERE THEY IMPORTANT?
My best friend, Ana. She never stops believing in me. And my mom, who fought her way through every trial this world threw at her to give me beautiful opportunities.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?
That’s a hard question. I would say Alaska. It has the perfect climate for me—but if I went, I would probably never leave.
Organization: Hispanic Student Association
WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION DO?
We like to hold events throughout the year, social, political and cultural, to give students space that commute or aren’t familiar with going to a university where they are able to establish relationships with other Hispanic/Latino students on campus.
WHAT EVENTS ARE YOUR ORGANIZATION HOLDING?
One we have is Quebonita bandera, which is in November. It is kind of like a celebration halfway through the year, since by the end of the semester, everyone is stressed out. We invite a bunch of people usually to the Johnson Center Bistro. There’s a DJ, music and the theme is flags so people come dressed up with the colors of their country…it’s just a happy cultural representation.
HOW DO YOU HOPE TO SEE HSA GROW THIS YEAR?
Before, it used to be known as the umbrella organization, for a lot of Hispanic and Latino students. They would come in and branch out to other organizations from us. I want to bring that back because it was something that helped me out when I was coming in as a freshman. I am hoping that the organization over the years will grow, that its name will get better and that more people get involved with it through bigger events.
WHAT IS ONE ADJECTIVE YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Exciting because of all the different personalities that are in my organization, whether they’re directly involved, or they just come out to events. There’s so many different people and cultures. You don’t even have to be Hispanic or Latino…Anyone can come in. If you want to embrace the Hispanic or Latino culture, this is the best way to do it.
HOW DO YOU KEEP STUDENTS INVOLVED?
Something that we are trying to incorporate [is] more food, more music, more cultural references into our events and having more events that touch social and political views of people. This year we will have an event based on what is a father in our community. For a lot of people that is a big topic, since masculinity is a big thing in the Latino community. We’ve never done something like that before so we are teaming up with other student organizations to do it.
HOW IS YOUR ORGANIZATION UNIQUE?
I guess the openness to accept anyone. I think what we try to emphasize to a lot of people is that you don’t have to be Hispanic or Latino to be a part of our organization. It’s supposed to be a family vibe. We call each other a familia most of the time because anyone can come…We would love to see more people that aren’t Hispanic come out. People always tell me they were afraid to come out because they weren’t Hispanic, but we say come back, we want you to come back.