Federika Garcia Muchacho, '15 Keeps our Community Healthy

October 23, 2014

Federika Garcia

Federika is a Wellness Ambassador on campus.

What's your major?

I'm majoring in nutrition and dietetics, minoring in psychology, and I'm part of the Honors Program

What's your favorite thing about your program?

The faculty's dedication to guiding and helping students achieve their dreams and goals. My professors have provided me with valuable advice and opportunities to grow and succeed.

Where did you study abroad?

In 2013 I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. I spent this past summer in Vienna, Austria. 

What were the programs like?

In South Africa, we would go to the hospitals early in the morning for about 6 hours every day. Then we'd have a two hour break and class for two hours. During the weekends we would have different excursions planned by the program to go around Cape Town and other cities to get to know the culture, history and the popular tourist destinations. The last week of the program we did a community development program. We went to one of the poorest towns in Cape Town. While we were there we talked to the community leaders and worked with them to figure out what they needed the most help with. They had no electricity in the township and at night many women were victims of assaults and rape because of the vulnerability the darkness caused. We provided electricity poles to the community, cleaned and organized a small library they had, and also cleaned the community with help from the members. With help from a Honors Program scholarship, I spent this last summer in Vienna, Austria. I took a Health Psychology class, for my psychology minor, and a German class.

What was a regular day in South Africa like?

We worked in four different hospitals throughout our time there (a different one every week) in order to get to know the health care system and its primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. We would choose what area we wanted to go to in the hospital (trauma, OBGYN, dressing room, triage, etc). We would then have the lectures about the health care system, communicable and noncommunicable diseases, as well as flaws in the system and advances by the government to improve in the future. Our nights were free for us to go around the city and get to know different places.

What's the most rewarding part of your internship?

Getting to know and understand a completely different culture than my own. Traveling with people I had not met before helped me get out of my comfort zone and gain more confidence. Learning about their health care system, both the negative and the positive, as well as playing a role in helping was also incredibly rewarding.

What made you become a Wellness Ambassador?

I came to Simmons as a transfer student my sophomore year. I wanted to join a club or organization that would promote health and nutrition. When I read the description of the Wellness Ambassadors and the program's focus on wellness rather than only nutrition or health, I realized how many opportunities I would have to grow if I joined. We've had a slow start over the past year -- but with a new team, an amazing director (Melissa Tanguay), and ideas for future events, we're ready to get the ball rolling!

What's your favorite part of being a Wellness Ambassador?

If you have an idea you can make it into a project no matter what area of wellness it relates to. You get help from different students, organizations, clubs, as well as people from outside of Simmons. It's an incredible opportunity to grow professionally, personally, socially, and more.

What's your top health tip?

Don't ever skip meals, there is no need to starve yourself when you can adopt a healthy lifestyle and achieve what you want! It's not about dieting, it's about changing your lifestyle and view on health.

What's your dream job?

Having a private practice while at the same time creating a sustainable program to help those who can't afford to be seen by a nutritionist but can truly benefit from seeing one. Prevention is key to improving the health in our communities.

Fill in the blank: I love Simmons because...

The opportunities it provides to students: studying abroad, the Simmons World Challenge, research, internships, lectures on current topics of interest and more!