Introducing Difference Maker Mentor: Adriana Garcia
My name is Adriana and I’m one of 5 DMMs (Difference Maker Mentors) for the 2023-2024 NRCA program. I’m a Junior at the University of Connecticut majoring in Cognitive Science but with many interests in other fields like Developmental Psychology, Linguistics, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Natural Resources and the Environment, to name a few. Although my goal is to become a psychologist, I also want to delve into nature by possibly building a farm or nature space where I could grow food, raise animals like chickens, goats, and bunnies; and have a pollinator garden where I could experience butterflies around all the time. Something I would like to study and possibly specialize in is the connection between psychology and exposure to nature.
If you want to know who I really am, besides a jokester, it’s important to know that I enjoy learning about different unrelated topics because I value the privilege of being able to experience so much despite growing up in a low income household. I remember having mentors as a child that influenced me more than they probably think they did and I want to be able to pass that on to other children of all ages and be a role model they can count on. In a way, my mentors inspired me to become a mentor. This, coupled with my interest in nature and the environment is what inspired me to become a DMM.
From this role and the experiences it comes with, I hope to learn even more about myself and what I want to do with my studies and my life. Most importantly, I hope to make a real difference in the lives of the students I get to work with. I am also excited to continue networking with professionals/professors/mentors, as well as friends that I’ve made along the way. I appreciate the community that this role has introduced me to-which is abundant in positivity, environmentalists, and people who have found their purpose and calling who wish to share that with the world.
So far, I’ve been developing my professionalism and my leadership skills. During the field experience, I realized that in order for others to participate and explore new experiences, it’s important that you guide the way for them to. This resulted in me trying so many new things like flying and landing a drone, getting into the Fenton river wearing a wader all while trying not to fall in, Dr. Jason Vokoun clipping a crawfish on my lanyard, holding a worm, learning about indigenous smudging, and getting stung by a yellowjacket, for the first time on our hike through the UConn forest, although unlike everything else, that was unexpected.
Becoming a DMM has benefited me greatly, and I can’t wait to continue growing in this role and taking what I’ve learned about leadership, culturally relevant, responsive, and trauma-informed approaches, and using this knowledge in future roles.
NRCA’s Conservation Ambassador Program (CAP) and NRCA’s Difference Maker Mentors (DMM) program are currently supported by a generous 5-year donation from the original private family foundation and from a grant (WAMS-2021-38503-34817) from the USDA Women & Minorities in STEM Fields.