Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Sammantha Garcia - Story of Self

About Me

Hi everybody! My name is Sammantha Garcia and I am a current junior at Harvard College studying Sociology with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. Throughout this academic year, I have been enrolled from my home in South Texas. I decided to take SOCIOL1130 because of my desire to reflect on my previous leadership experiences in a meaningful way before I officially cease all my leadership positions my senior year at Harvard. I have held a plethora of leadership positions at Harvard dealing with the Latinx community and the first-generation and low-income community. Some organizations I have been involved in include Act on a Dream, the Undergraduate Council, Small Claims Advisory Service, and more.

Throughout my time at Harvard, I have noticed the impact that mentorship has had on my experience. By participating in the FYRE program as a first-year, I met some of my closest friends today who guided and advised me throughout significant periods at Harvard. Additionally, I was fortunate to receive advice and help from older students that are also from South Texas. Not only did I gain meaningful friendships, but I also gained informal mentors that continue to guide me as I finish Harvard. As such, as I started stepping into large leadership roles, I ensured that I extended the same generosity and mentorship to those who sought it. These different experiences have only made me realize the importance of mentorship and the impact it may have on others. Although I am stepping out of leadership roles, my plan is to continue support other students and doing my best to share my own experiences with others at Harvard. 

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. 

Previous Leadership Experiences 

Below are leadership experiences where I felt I interacted with mentorship in some capacity at Harvard.
  1. First-Year Retreat Experience (FYRE), Steering Committee Member, Mentorship: February 2019 to August 2020 
  2. Latinas Unidas, Vice-President: March 2019 to June 2020 
  3. Latina Empowerment and Development Conference (LEAD), Co-Executive Director: March 2019 to February 2020 
  4. Latinas Unidas, President: June 2020 to December 2020 
  5. Peer Advising Fellow (PAF): June 2020 to Present 
  6. Latinxs in Finance and Technology (LiFT), Vice-President of Community Engagement: June 2020 to Present  


Throughout my time at Harvard College, I have been assigned and informally connected with around 10+ mentors that have helped me with my pre-law interests, academic concerns, and issues of belonging as a first-generation and low-income student at Harvard. Through these unpaid, paid, and informal mentorship experiences, I have come to learn the importance and necessity of mentorship within organizations at Harvard. However, I have oftentimes been stuck with desiring a mentorship program that exhibits the best qualities of some of the mentorships I have participated in. Given my experience, my research question aims to understand the best way to institutionalize a mentorship program that helps students academically, career wise, and informally. Is this even possible? How can we improve these mentorship programs at the institutional level? After conducting a series of interviews with various administrators and students from Harvard organizations that engage with mentorship some way, I will offer an action plan with suggestions to Harvard University on ways they can institutionalize such mentorship programs. 

To answer this, I interviewed 6 individuals from Harvard organizations that I have identified as engaging with mentorship academically, professionally, or informally. I identified a majority of these organizations using my personal knowledge of these mentorships. These organizations exhibit formal and informal mentorship in numerous way. 
  1. Peer Advising Fellows Program: Jacqueline Tubbs, Eagle PAF, Class of 2022
  2. Peer Advising Fellows Program: Brooks Lambert-Sluder, Assistant Director of the PAF Program
  3. First-Year Retreat Experience (FYRE) Program: Lisette Leon, FYRE 2019 Co-Chair, Class of 2021 
  4. Academic Resource Center: Sade Abraham, Academic Coach and Previous FYRE Director 
  5. Latinxs in Finance and Technology (LiFT): Calvin Duran, LiFT Founder and Previous President, Class of 2021 
  6. First-Generation Harvard Alumni Program: Nancy Serrano-Wu and Ted White, Student Affairs Co-Directors 
Additionally, Daniela Castro and I interviewed four individuals at Pomona College. Through these interviews, I learned more about Pomona's interactions with mentorship.
  1. Ricardo Townes, Associate Dean at Pomona, Student Mentoring and Leadership 
  2. Daniel Caballero, Assistant Director, First-Generation & Undocumented Student Programs 

Timeline of Mentorship Experiences 

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