Amanda Gonzalez Garcia, a first-generation college student at Barry University, is a self-motivated changemaker who brings energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to her every endeavor. She makes incredible contributions to our institution as well as the broader community. Amanda is deeply concerned about the detrimental effects of food insecurity on students and community residents, and she makes an impact through both direct service and advocacy. She founded “Hunger to Action,” a group dedicated to combatting hunger and food insecurity, and she recently participated as a panelist in Bread for the World’s Conversation with the White House on the topic of food insecurity. In addition, Amanda gives of her time in collaborative service, including volunteering for special antihunger projects and assisting at Feeding South Florida, a regional food bank. Furthermore, she serves in several student leadership positions through which she encourages her peers to become more civically engaged. As a member of the Barry Service Corps, she focuses on capacity-building projects, and she occasional writes newsletter articles featuring her fellow students’ civic engagement, which she hopes readers will find inspiring. Finally, Amanda’s demonstrated initiative reflects her potential for developing innovative and collaborative strategies for addressing public problems in her community and beyond.
During my first year at Barry University, an institution committed to social justice and collaborative service, I recognized the impact of social injustice on the wider community. I became aware of food insecurity and the presence of food deserts while engaging in service-learning; and I was shocked that such a problem could exist in the United States, a developed country. Born and raised in Cuba, I was surrounded by poverty. Rations and portions were how a family survived there. In the United States, food insecurity affects many families, and one in three college students currently face food insecurity. The inability to have reliable access to healthy and affordable food can lead to poor academic performance, debilitating health effects, and more. Through civic engagement, including direct service and advocacy, I am doing what I can to address the problem in my community of Miami, Florida. Volunteering for community service projects as well as speaking on issues like hunger is important to me. I am also involved in writing articles for my university newspaper and occasional feature stories for a newsletter in which students’ contributions to the community are highlighted.