castroBringing peace to the world is a tall order, but Blanca Castro, criminology, law and society major, is doing her part to make it happen.

Coming to UCI, she knew she wanted to help others and make a difference. Her participation in a nonviolence workshop taught by Bernard Lafayette Jr., a longtime civil rights activist and organizer, at UC Irvine’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium also led her to minor in international studies and conflict resolution.

Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Castro was exposed to a very diverse community while attending an international middle school. As soon as she stepped foot on UCI’s campus, she knew it was home.

“My favorite part about UCI is the welcoming community,” she says. “It’s a very friendly campus and after getting involved, there was never a point in time where I felt alone.”

This past year, Castro co-founded Students for Global Peacebuilding (SGP), a student initiative established to encourage citizen education and action about global peacebuilding. In their first year, SGP started Peace Week and a Peace in Action Summit, a weeklong series of events dedicated to bringing awareness to the campus and to encourage students and the local community to resolve conflicts nonviolently.

The inspiration to launch SGP was sparked from the classes she took at UC Irvine and the mentorship of Paula Garb, anthropology lecturer and Center for Citizen Peacebuilding co-director.

“Paula’s passion and work in international studies and conflict resolution drove me to get involved in several campus organizations,” Castro says.   

Along with SGP, Castro has also served as a student diplomat for the Olive Tree Initiative and as vice president for Helping Hearts for the Homeless. Through these experiences and with Garb’s guidance, she’s been able to develop her leadership skills and gain the confidence to pursue a career in international relations and diplomacy.

“The endless opportunities that can be found here [at UCI], along with the high caliber of my classes and professors are what make UCI special,” she says. “I am grateful for all those that support UCI so that my dreams can come true.”

UCI students current and past are changing the world every day. Through the philanthropic support of alumni, parents and friends, students like Castro are pioneering a brighter future for generations to come.

Learn more about giving opportunities in the School of Social Sciences and UCI.

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