January 16, 2012
Sofia Macias ’13 strongly believes that while a person may hope and wish for a better world, advancement just isn’t possible without some kind of effort or action. That belief is one of the biggest reasons why she volunteers and excels in her courses. An international affairs major in the Hamilton Holt School, she is a member of the honors society Sigma Iota Rho and is minoring in education. On campus, Macias is president of her sorority Sigma Gamma Rho, vice president of Rollins Relief, the children’s executive co-chair for Join Us in Marking Progress, and a student assistant for the Office of Community Engagement. Off campus, she’s a mentor at Fern Creek Elementary School and volunteers with anti-poverty organizations.
The Declaration of Independence guarantees Americans the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” What does that mean to you?
Life as an unalienable right allows for a person to search for endless joy and fulfillment and to make choices regardless of how others may feel. I translate it to mean that a person is free to choose whom they wish to marry, whether or not they want to go to college, and what neighborhood they live in. No one should be able to tell someone else that the way they have chosen to live their life is wrong.
How are you helping to make justice a reality?
By working with underserved communities in the Central Florida community. For example, an organization that I volunteer with—Idignity—provides different forms of identification to the homeless community. Although this does not magically take people off the streets, it allows for them to be one step closer to getting themselves off the street and into a better living situation.
During his “I Have a Dream Speech,” King laid out his dream. What is your dream?
I believe my dream is similar to Dr. King’s in that I wish to see safe and diverse communities with strong and empowered citizens. It would be my dream that every person, whether young or old, receive a quality education in a nurturing, healthy, and challenging environment.
How does this dream drive what you’re studying?
I believe that education plays a huge role in an individual’s success. The hope that my generation can be successful regardless of unfair and crippling factors definitely drives me to want to be involved in this specific workforce.
Likewise, all of the organizations that I choose to be a part of stress the importance of community involvement and service-learning. Fortunately, most of my involvement relates to organizations that work closely with children and the homeless community of Orlando. It is with a conscious effort that I try to remain involved with these specific organizations because they allow me to work in areas I am truly passionate about.
How are you helping to improve the living condition for others?
I am not in a position where I can donate money to organizations, I cannot buy homes for the homeless population, and I cannot provide food to every hungry person. One of the few things that I can give is my time. I mentor a student at Fern Creek Elementary because otherwise he may not receive the attention and positive reinforcement that he deserves for various reasons. I have noticed how just an hour of my time can improve his day. I also contribute my time to fight against poverty in Orlando. You would be surprised how a small plate of food, a used sweater, or even a new identification card makes their life a little bit easier for a little while.
On a small scale, it’s also about being an active member within your community. It doesn’t take much to smile at a stranger on the street, throw trash in the garbage can, or educate myself as much as possible so as not to spread or tolerate ignorance.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in becoming involved but aren’t sure where to start?
I would say to students who want to get involved to attend a few different events, such as a J.U.M.P. open meeting or fraternity/sorority recruitment. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new.
Honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, MLK Celebration runs January 16-21. Join us in paying homage to King’s work toward equality and economic justice for all people.
By Laura J. Cole
Office of Marketing & Communications
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