Junior Araceli Garcia awarded Newman Civic Fellowship

Araceli Garcia
Araceli Garcia

Between facilitating conversations about identity in the Chicanx/Latinx community on campus and providing legal assistance to immigrants in Texas, junior ARACELI GARCIA works to strengthen communities and equip them to address injustice.

A Chicanx/Latinx studies major, Garcia has been awarded the 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. President MARC TESSIER-LAVIGNE recommended her for the award, which honors student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions for complex social and environmental challenges.

Garcia’s service includes work as an ethnic theme associate at Casa Zapata, staff member at El Centro Chicano y Latino, member of the student advocacy and organizing group MEChA, and cohort lead for the Haas Center for Public Service and Diversity and First-Gen Office Emerson Fellowship: Transforming Dialogue into Action.

“Araceli challenges students to think critically about the root causes of social issues, recognize the historical context that impacts marginalized communities and think bigger and broader toward true liberation,” said HEATHER BROWNING, program director of the Emerson Fellowship.

For Garcia, a defining issue is immigration.

“Immigration has always been a part of my life. A lot of family members and loved ones have been undocumented and are undocumented,” she said.

Her connection to U.S. immigration issues motivated her to work over her freshman summer with the Elizabeth Reed Immigration Law Firm, where she helped process naturalization requests in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Last summer, with the support of an Undergraduate Advising and Research Major Grant, she returned to San Antonio to serve with the Karnes Pro Bono Project at the nonprofit RAICES. There she helped women in a detention center, most of whom were from Central America, prepare for the credible-fear interviews that are part of asylum proceedings. At RAICES, she witnessed the challenge of balancing direct triage services with advocacy for legislative change at a time when federal policies were complicating an already complicated asylum process.

“I feel really honored to be nominated as the Newman Civic Fellow for Stanford. Service is truly a collective experience, and I hope to continue to use my position as a Stanford student to serve communities I deeply care about,” said Garcia.

“We are so thrilled to recognize Araceli’s commitment to public service,” said DEBORAH STIPEK, the Peter E. Haas Faculty Director of the Haas Center for Public Service, which coordinates the campus nomination effort.

Garcia aspires to become an immigration attorney but also foresees working with youth, a possibility she will explore this summer in an expanded role at RAICES as a Cardinal Quarter Public Interest Law Fellow, supporting outreach and educational efforts with high school and college students.

“Having a sense of efficacy as a young person is something I personally struggled with, and I want other young people to feel that they have some stake in being able to change current systems and change lived realities for themselves in a tangible way,” Garcia said.