Quendi Cruz Garcia

This academic year, University Relations is celebrating five years of We Are UNCW! We have done almost 300 profiles of our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. As part of the celebration, we will have a gallery showcase from August 22 through September 22 in the Boseman Gallery, located in Fisher University Union. We couldn't print hundreds of portraits, of course, but we selected 30 photos to include in the gallery showcase – and we have a digital slideshow to highlight the other 200+ portraits! Some of our profilees have graduated, been promoted or retired, or moved, but we are proud to share these snapshots of who they were at the time that these stories made their “We Are UNCW” debut. We hope you enjoy this look back, and we are looking forward to telling all the stories that lie ahead!


Aug. 19, 2019

Quendi Laura Cruz Garcia ’19 discovered her passion for advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities during an internship last summer in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Garcia, a recreation therapy major, worked with children with disabilities at Cuidando Angeles, a center that provides services to individuals with cerebral palsy. She was responsible for planning activities for the children. Her positive experience prompted Garcia to continue to help the children after she left.

“I witnessed a lot of progress being made in the children, but I also witnessed what a lack of resources and support can do,” she said.

Garcia approached Centro Hispano director Edel Segovia about sending supplies to Cuidando Angeles with UNCW students who were participating in a short-term study abroad program in Oaxaca.

“At first, I focused solely on materials that would be used in the therapy sessions like yoga balls, games, school supplies and items that would aid in motor skills,” Garcia said. 

The project began to snowball as the number of UNCW students who wanted to help increased. The students, along with Hispanic Maryknoll Ministry at the Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary in Wilmington, planned a drive to collect items, including clothing and diapers for the families who lived in the rural pueblos of Oaxaca. Alpha Psi Lambda members assisted in sorting the more than 400 items collected. The donations were delivered in May.

“I was fortunate that I had a lot of support from the local LatinX community,” Garcia said.

Garcia has a personal connection to helping children with disabilities.

When she was 15 years old, Garcia was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica, an autoimmune disorder in which immune system cells and antibodies primarily attack the optic nerves and the spinal cord.

“This is something that I have learned to embrace and to live with. I am usually open to talking about it with anyone who is interested in listening,” she said. “I do face a few obstacles, because I am on chemotherapy to treat it. I always try to keep my head up to just push through it.”

In 2017, Garcia worked as a volunteer with Easter Seals UCP in Wilmington. “I gained hands-on experience working with young children who required extra care,” she said. “It was there that I began to explore the field of recreation therapy and fell in love with it. I learned that therapy is not just about reaching goals or fixing something, rather it is about creating environments that encourage the individuals to act towards a healthier life.”


-- Venita Jenkins