Alumni in 10
Brenda Garcia, '15
Justice Fellow with Immigrant Justice Corp serving as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of Central Florida
Degree Earned/Emphasis Area
B.A. in Legal Studies and minor in Spanish
1. What has your journey been since graduation?
After graduation in Spring 2015 I took a gap year. During this gap year I studied for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), continued working as a Human Resource Assistant at the law firm Warner Norcross & Judd, and traveled. In fall 2016 I began as a full-time law student at Michigan State University College of Law. In law school, I interned at Migrant Legal Aid and the Michigan Immigrants Right Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a Law Clerk working on immigration, employment, and housing issues. I also served in MSU Law Immigration Clinic as a Student Clinician where I represented non-citizen clients in affirmative and defensive immigration proceedings. After my law school graduation I will be completing a two-year fellowship with the Immigrant Justice Corps serving as a Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of Central Florida, primarily representing unaccompanied children in need of pro bono representation.
2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?
As a first-generation college student and Grand Rapids native, Grand Valley State University has played a tremendous role in my life. In high school I was part of the Trio Upward Bound-GVSU program. I spent all my high school summers living on the Allendale campus getting exposed to a college atmosphere. Once I was at GVSU I continued to receive the same unconditional support by faculty, staff, scholarships, and programs like Trio SSS, the Legal Studies major, and the Cook Leadership Academy.
3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?
My favorite memory at Grand Valley was being able to establish a professional, multicultural sorority on campus. This accomplishment gave me leadership experience and a sense of belonging to the GVSU community.
4. What three words describe your experience at Grand Valley?
Challenging, Eye-opening, Valuable.
5. How, and why, have you stayed involved with Grand
Valley since graduation?
I have stayed in touch with Trio Upward Bound-GVSU and with two of my favorite professors from the Legal Studies program, Ruth Stevens, and Kristi Mullendore, because of the connection and bond I formed with them. They all provided a positive impact in my life and in more than one way shaped and helped me be where I am today.
6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?
Attending college was by far the best decision I have ever made. I learned so much about academics, life, and about my culture because of my GVSU education. For all of this I am very honored and proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime!
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I love to go dancing!
8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?
“Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.” - Emiliano Zapata
“I rather die standing than live life on my knees.”
9. What motivates you?
My family has always been my motivation, specifically my parents. They have worked so hard to live in this country and sacrificed so much for their children. The least I could do is make them proud.
10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?
The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande. Thoroughly recommend.