Andy Garcia

Name: Andy Garcia

Hometown: Havanna, Cuba and Miami, Florida

Major: International Relations and Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies

Year: Alumni, Class of 2015, Current UF Law Student

What are you currently doing?I am doing an externship with the Alachua County Courthouse and working for a private law firm. I’m also running a non-profit with other individuals from UF called Inspire Cuba.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I always wanted to go to law school. My father and people around me always said that I would be a good lawyer. I’m very argumentative. When I came to UF I started taking classes in Political Science to try it out and met a professor who encouraged me to apply to law school and I did, and I don’t regret it because I love it.

How did MFOS help you with your decision to go to law school?

In my senior year I participated in a program that was a collaboration between MFOS and UF law. While in the program I was matched with a law school professor mentor and got to sit in on classes at the law school to see what the experience would be like. That professor actually ended up being my first year constitutional law professor!

Tell me more about InspireCuba

I co-founded InspireCuba with UF alumni Marco Garcia in 2013. Initially it was a student organization on campus and then we decided to become a non-profit. The goal of the organization is to build a bridge between the people of the United States with the people in Cuba. InspireCuba focuses on the communal and economic empowerment of the Cuban people through collaborative projects.

What projects does InspireCuba lead?

For the first two years we couldn’t go to Cuba, so we collected donations that we could send over. In early 2016, we received the $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace award and proposed the project Marabú to Charcoal. The collaborative project aims to help rural communities produce and export charcoal out of overgrowing weeds and create a more sustainable environment. This is the first Davis Projects for Peace that is being done in Cuba. This project is also being supported by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation. If this succeeds we hope to do even bigger things.  

How does it feel to be recognized for the Newman Civic Fellowship?

I feel privileged that the president of the University of Florida nominated me for that fellowship after being recommended by the Brown Center for Leadership and Service. I feel part of that is because Cuba isn’t something that many people talk about at UF, despite the fact that many students that come to UF are of Cuban heritage. It’s good that the university is helping bring attention to this particular issue.

What advice do you have for students?

If I hadn’t received the MFOS scholarship and chosen UF InspireCuba would not have been the same. It is because of all the people I met here on campus who have different perspectives and backgrounds that helped shaped the vision of InspireCuba. Get involved as much as you can. It’s not about the quantity, but the quality of what you give to these organizations. If you don’t see your vision in the student organizations here create your own.