Student Spotlight: Julissa Garcia, recipient of the NBCUniversal LNESC scholarship

student with long dark hair and bangs sitting in a chair with a brick backdrop
Julissa Garcia

Julissa Garcia, a sophomore in journalism and mass communication, has received a scholarship from NBCUniversal/LNESC scholarship program for the 2017-18 school year.

This award "is intended to assist and encourage outstanding Latino students with an interest in the media and entertainment industry." Only 10 recipients were selected nationwide for this prestigious honor.

Tell me a little more about yourself.

I’m a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in women’s studies. I’m a first-generation student, and I come from the south suburbs of Chicago. I’m the oldest—I have two other sisters and one brother. Two of my siblings are at the University of Iowa right now.

Why are scholarships important to you?

Right now, I’m trying to get as much money as I can from scholarships. Because I come from a different state, it’s a little harder tuition-wise. Scholarships are always my priority. This one was for Latinx students interested in media and communications, so that’s why I applied.

What was the application process like for the NBCUniversal scholarship?

They gave questions to expand on. One of the questions asked why I had an interest in media and communication. I explained how I wanted to represent the underrepresented or mispresented because I feel like people from Latinx backgrounds don’t really go into these industries because they are dominated by other races, so it can be a little difficult for them to gain their spotlight or role in the industry. I explained how I want to strive to be in those roles and encourage people to follow my path.

What brought you to Iowa State?

I always say it started out really cheesy. I saw the commercial that said "choose your adventure." And I was so interested in it. I wanted to attend a school that was known for journalism, not just had the program there. I did my research and when I saw Iowa State had a really good program, I thought this was somewhere I really want to go. When I came on my first visit, I finally made my decision and knew I definitely wanted to go to school here. It was just a different environment from what I was used to. I wasn’t used to historic buildings. What really intrigued me was the environment of that, I think I was just used to a little bit of city life but also suburban life. How everyone interacted with each other, I just saw myself doing the same. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

What was it like being the first one in your immediate family to go to college?

It was definitely scary. I knew since I was younger that I wanted to go to college, and it was something my parents always wanted too. It was assumed I would go to college. It was hard though because my parents couldn’t really help me with the applying and financial process because they just weren’t knowledgeable about that. I did most of the research myself. It has taught me so much about growing as a person. I’m so grateful for my family and relatives for being there and being so proud of me. And when I come back home, it’s just awesome to have them asking me questions and be so proud of me.

And through my own process of going to school, I’ve been able to teach my siblings as they went to University of Iowa. It was cool to be someone they could rely on. If they have question, I could definitely help them. But because I had to do it myself and was more independent I tried to teach them that too. I believe in the independence of college. It’s taught me a lot, and I want it to teach them a lot. It’s really cool to see someone else to do that. College has been the best decision for all three of us. It makes our parents proud that all three of us are in college.

What activities are you involved in?

I’m secretary for my sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., and am vice president of SAGE, the Society for the Advancement of Gender Equity. Without going to Iowa State, I would have never been a part of my sorority or SAGE. I’ve met so many awesome people. That’s the best thing about Iowa State. It just hits different fields … both career and social organizations. You get to find your place at Iowa State. I really like that.

What has been your experience at the Greenlee School?

It was a little hard adjusting to college and finding my place. My sorority has given me my place and voice in reaching out the Latinx community. Even as a journalism major, I often feel weird or out of place. I didn’t know if I belonged. This semester has definitely affirmed I do. Studying and doing more homework here in Hamilton and interacting with professors has helped me out a lot. I haven’t really interacted with other students in my major yet. But I met one last week, and we’ve already made plans about reaching out to each other more. She’s a person of color too. If anything, it has taught me to reach out more in Greenlee and to find my place and stop feeling like I don’t belong because I feel that stops me from finding opportunities.

What’s been your favorite Greenlee class so far?

201 with Dr. Boyles. She’s just been awesome. I really like when professors are passionate about what they do, and I believe that motivates me to do even better. When writing essays, I think, "I want Dr. Boyles" to be proud of this. Just having her in the back of my mind definitely motivated me to improve on my writing skills.

What do you hope to do with your journalism major?

Since journalism is a broad career field, I definitely am looking into a lot of options. I don’t have a set one yet. My dream job would be working for Buzzfeed.

We have grads that work there!

Yeah, I did see that. That is so cool!

Why did you choose women’s studies as a minor?

I took a Women’s Studies 201 my freshman year. People are mistaken by the name women’s studies … that it’s just about women’s issues. Being a feminist is very intersectional. It means working on the equal rights of everyone, focusing on people of color, LGBTQ+ identities… I hope to teach people about that. It will also help me gain more knowledge of social issues to go along with my journalism major.

What advice do you have for students about pursuing scholarships?

My roommate asked me this question too. My piece of advice is to be truthful to you and to the person you’re sending the essay to. Tell them your story. I feel that is very impactful. There are always different questions, but they always seem to be about you. Obviously formatting and doing an essay structure is very important, but writing what’s true to your life and story is very beneficial.

Also, do your research. Like everyone says, scholarships are there, they’re everywhere. Finding ones that reach out to certain groups of people are very important because you have a higher chance of getting those scholarships like this one. If anything, getting this one has pushed me more to keep trying to apply.