UNLV’s Renaissance Woman
UNLV student Sharissa Garcia may be a modern-day Renaissance woman. The 26-year-old psychology major has interests in both arts and sciences, and has plans to use her skills in both to help others.
Between balancing classes, Garcia serves as a behavioral technician where she implements programs to help autistic children work on their behavior, communication and education. She also focuses her attention on philanthropy and takes an interest in singing, acting, traveling and martial arts.
Her devotion to philanthropy will take her on a two-week trip to Thailand from May 17 to June 1, where she will be a part of the Growth International Volunteer Excursions program to help impoverished communities.
“I just really want to help people, make a change in the world and make a difference,” Garcia said. “It gives me a chance to travel abroad.”
She plans to bring ecofriendly and sustainable change to the community. Her two-week journey will include making buildings with recycled water bottles and pasting over them with clay. Aside from helping the community, she will be teaching English to children and organizing activities for them.
Helping children in Thailand doesn’t stop there. Garcia is aiming to move the autistic children from isolation to general education classes, building up their strengths and working on their weaknesses.
Garcia says that she loves her job despite the hard work.
“There’s a lot of things I deal with that are not ideal,” Garcia said. “What keeps me around is knowing that I’m making a difference in these children’s lives, and celebrating those small successes.”
Her inspiration for helping others comes from personal obstacles she dealt with in the past that led her to major in psychology.
“I think it’s absolutely fascinating,” Garcia said. “It’s kind of helping figure out why people are the way they are, why people act they way they are, why they speak the way they speak and I think it’s all fascinating to try and put it together.”
At the age of 3, Garcia began swimming. By the age of 5 she developed a love for acting and singing, and by 12 she was considered a lethal weapon with a black belt in Kung Fu.
She took a break from her many passions, so she could put school first. Garcia’s plan is to get a master’s degree in clinical psychology to allow her to work with people of all ages.
Her wanderlust for travel inspired her to apply for graduate school in the Netherlands.
After her master’s degree Garcia eventually wants to go for her doctorate, and her end goal is to own her own practice.
“I want to help assess, diagnose, and treat patients that are mentally ill, or emotionally disturbed, helping them overcome obstacles that have been facing or currently are facing,” Garcia said.
Currently, she is pushing hard for graduation, applying for more out of state internships, broadening her horizons, and hopes to learn more about herself and just enjoy her life journey.
“I think life if one big adventure and I want to explore it,” Garcia said.
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