By Amy Lignor
Special to the Daily Record
Samantha Garza is a young woman embarking on a great adventure. She’s always been a “gift” to her family and friends, and now she is about to venture off to a foreign country in order to help, nurture and learn from others.
When looking back on the path that brought her to this moment in her life, Samantha said: “I am lucky enough to have been born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico.”
After graduating from Roswell High School in 2014, she continued her education at New Mexico State University, achieving a bachelor’s degree in government. “All of my family currently lives in Roswell, including my mother, Naomi Garza; father, Sam Garza; sister, Gabby Garza; and Grandpa, Jesse Garza. I have been traveling around the country for the past year, so I am incredibly excited to be back in the Land of Enchantment!”
Samantha utilized her talents working on the presidential campaign of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar during the Iowa Caucus. With the title of “field organizer,” her primary duty was to empower caucus-goers and get people excited about Klobuchar on a grassroots level. While working in Boone County — a very rural area — Samantha said that she had some memorable and truly “great” conversations with the people there.
“I knocked on doors, held meetings, attended events and made phone calls to spread the word on Sen. Klobuchar’s policies and achievements. I am so proud of what we accomplished in Iowa. It has been an honor of a lifetime to work for a hardworking and inspirational woman. …”
She also would like to remind everyone that it’s important to be kind to your local organizers because, “We all work extremely hard to make the world a better place.”
While helping those in need on a community level — combined with her passion for volunteer work — she made it her mission to join the Peace Corps. “I truly want to make a positive influence in the world and my community, whether I reach just one person or 100 people,” she said.
And now, she is headed far away from New Mexico in order to do just that.
Applying to be placed in Senegal, she soon received an invitation to serve there. When asked why Senegal of all the choices to pick from, Samantha noted: “I was extremely attracted to Senegal due to the rich culture of the Senegalese, such as music, dance, clothing, language and food. I knew after extensive research into the country that I needed to experience Senegal for myself.”
Although she has not yet met her host family, and did not know what village she will be living in, Samantha is eager to see what the future holds. “I think what excites me the most is getting to see if I will have siblings. Also, I am looking forward to all of the family meals we will share over the next two years.”
Every village has its own language, so Samantha will be given an in-depth language course once she arrives. This will be hard work, to settle in, but Samantha is up for the challenge. “I don’t think it’s easy, because I do not believe you can learn a culture solely through research. It would be best if you were submerged in said culture to gain an appreciation and deeper understanding of it all.”
In her role as a Community Health Support Agent, Samantha will aid the Senegalese Community Health Workers by expanding access to health programs. Senegal lacks hospitals and clinics in many areas. Thus, plans were put in place to try and combat maternal and child mortality rates and adopt healthy behavior.
“A couple of my objectives are to mentor, teach and train Senegalese on prevention services, and to promote primary health care,” she said. “I will be working in schools, health huts and other places people can gather within the community.”
One personal goal is to gain a deeper understanding of diversity, culture and issues affecting women around the world. By doing this, she will be able to bring those experiences and conversations back with her to the United States.
“I hope I personally learn who and what kind of woman I want to become, and how I can creatively give back to my community,” she said.
When it comes to the future, Samantha is still discovering what will come next. But one thing she is sure about: She’ll continue her education upon her return to the United States. “I have been truly inspired and influenced by former United States Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” she said. “I would love to work in the field of foreign policy and maybe even diplomacy.”
Samantha added some words of encouragement to the local youth.
“To the kids of Roswell, you can do anything you put your mind to. Regardless of the color of your skin, where you come from, or what side of town you grew up on. If I can do it, you can do more.
“I believe in you to live out your dreams and make the world a better place! Lastly, please vote.”