Garcia '14: From Honolulu to Harvard
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2014
This fall, Ana Garcia '14 of Elizabeth, NJ, began her studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Before moving to Cambridge, Mass., she spent her summer in Hawaii as an intern for Minatoishi Architects, Inc. in Honolulu.
A double major in architectural studies and Latin American Studies at HWS, Garcia is pursuing a master's in landscape architecture at Harvard with the hope of earning a dual degree with a master's in urban design.
Though she says her particular interest is in urban design in developing countries, particularly in Latin America, Garcia's internship this summer had a slightly different focus but proved to be an invaluable experience.
At Minatoishi - an architecture and preservation firm - Garcia's internship focused on the preservation component of the company. Her main tasks were working on the photo and text formatting, as well as the graphic design, for the historic nomination forms for the HART project, which is the city's rail system project. After the forms were finalized by Garcia, the firm sent them to the national register of historic places for approval.
"This has been a great opportunity to learn about the politics that surround a national project as well as getting unique insight into the Hawaiian culture through its constructions," Garcia said of her internship.
Garcia praises both her classes and the tight-knit architectural studies department at HWS for providing her with a top architectural education, and with helping her discover a career path.
"When I started at HWS, I had no idea that landscape architecture would end up being my field of study," says Garcia. "I knew I was interested in design and its ability to shape not only the physical world but also the social atmosphere of a place. It was through the guidance of my faculty advisers, Kirin Makker and Jeffrey Blankenship, that I found my future field of study."
While a student, Garcia was involved on campus as a Resident Assistant, an EMT, a Teaching Fellow for the architectural studies department, a Lead Teaching Fellow, and a Teaching Assistant. In 2013, Garcia was the recipient of the Eric Cohler Internship and Travel Award, which provided her with the opportunity to travel abroad and intern for Eric Cohler Design, Inc., in New York City. She spent the summer studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, exploring how the Latin American city is developing, and how its physical environment is shaped by its history. As a senior, Garcia completed an Honors project in architectural studies titled, "From Obscurity to Center Stage: Redesigning Bicentennial Park."
With a resume that encompasses such a diverse array of activities, Garcia appreciates the flexibility in the HWS curriculum that allowed her to pursue all of her interests.
"HWS allows you to explore all of your interests, even if those interests are far away from your main field of study," Garcia explains. "In being able to explore so many different topics, I've been able to learn of the connections that exist between topics that may seem unrelated."
In addition to her two advisers, the faculty at HWS also encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree. "The faculty are invested in our education as much as we are and care deeply about each of us," says Garcia. "They go beyond just being faculty, to being mentors and friends."