Meet Anissa Garza. A graduate of the Class of 2015, she is a sophomore at Bates College in Maine who is double majoring in psychology and religious studies. This fall, she will head to Tarragona, Spain for a semester, inching closer to her dream to one day earn a doctorate in psychology, become a clinician or researcher and, eventually, a professor in psychology at a college or university.
At 20 years-old, her checklist of awards and accomplishments read like a lengthy novel. At CRSM she was a Schuler Scholar and the Salutatorian of her graduating class. Her extracurricular activities ranged from the National Honor Society and Student Council, to the Happy Club, Student Ambassadors, retreat leader, volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, Hunger Matters and Mock Trial member, all while working at the Walgreen Company for four years.
Her commitment to give back and make a difference is stronger than ever today as she serves as a program assistant for the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine, a volunteer at the Lewiston Public Library tutoring students of all ages with homework assignments and a volunteer scribe for the Alzheimer’s Association, which involves interviewing participants living with Alzheimer’s about their childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood/parenthood and writing stories about their lives.
“Being at CRSM taught me just how instrumental community engagement can be and that’s exactly what fuels my engagement with the community today,” she says.
She’s eagerly awaiting word on her applications for summer, which include the Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program at West Virginia University. If accepted, she will be devoting nine weeks of her summer to research under the supervision of one of their faculty members. She’s also in the process of applying to two summer camps for special needs children to assist them in providing therapeutic residential programing for boys and girls with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.
“My ideal career would involve helping others,” she says. “That could manifest itself in multiple ways: assisting patients through clinical work, advancing our knowledge of neuropsychiatric diseases through research, or assisting students as a professor.”
It is Cristo Rey, she says, that played a major role in instilling her confidence, independence and determination to make a difference in the world. “Obtaining a higher education has always been my dream,” she says. “However, I don’t think I would be as confident and independent had I not attended CRSM. I believe the work study program played a big role in instilling that confidence and independence.”
Today, her younger brother, Raul, is following in her footsteps as a sophomore at CRSM.
The most significant lesson she learned at CRSM was “not being afraid of asking others for help. This becomes so incredibly important in college, especially when it comes to understanding course material.”
“The teachers and staff at CRSM are easily the most dedicated and caring people I have ever met,” she says. “They cared about me during my time there and that alone made a difference in my life.”
Her advice for CRSM students: “Never doubt your place at the academic institution you find yourself in after high school. You have earned your place as a student there and the same diligence and resilience that got you there will get you through.”