Daniela Garcia ‘16, a proud San Francisco native, grew up immersed in Latin culture where music and dance were a part of her everyday life. From an early age, Daniela found dance as a way to express herself. When Daniela discovered ‘artivism,’ a fusion of art and activism, in her teen years, she learned to find her voice and confidence, and to take a stance on social issues. She says, “To dance with a purpose–dance is an easy way to introduce people to topics like racism, social oppression…art that provokes questions and new meaning. People don’t think of dance as a tool for activism, but dance was literally created through rebellion.”

Daniela recalls her time at SHC, embracing values of perseverance and self-motivation that she believes came out of the Lasallian-Vincentian charism. She remembers wanting to join the dance team. Although she didn't make it after her first tryout, her determination led her to audition again—and she succeeded under Ms. Laura Wexler’s guidance. “Ms. Wexler fueled me to be loud and have opinions. I really wanted to be her right wing. In a way, she was always looking out for me,” Daniela said. This experience opened her eyes to the power of dance as an alternative lens to life and the impact of mentorship as a youth.

Mr. Christian Bohm, the Chorus Director at the time, helped Daniela explore her artistic talents by encouraging her to take on leadership roles in choreography for a few Visual and Performing Arts showcases. The SHC community nurtured her passion for dance and fueled her fire to bring art to underprivileged communities. By her senior year of high school, Daniela was teaching artivism to youth in her community.

Driven by her passion for the arts and the words “Enter to learn, leave to Serve,” Daniela teaches youth across the Bay Area, with a focus on artivism. Her mission is to make the arts accessible to youth experiencing homelessness, immigrant children and underprivileged communities. Daniela aims to instill confidence in her students, emphasizing the importance of self-expression and activism. “I want them to feel confident to express themselves as they already are… Seeing youth take a stance on something is powerful. Art can bring about discussion within themselves and their communities.” Daniela aims to empower youth and bring communities together through her work. She recalls the isolation that COVID brought about to communities, but she hopes her work can make people feel less isolated and inspire collaboration and open discussions. She says this is what is lost in society.

Reflecting on her SHC days, Daniela cherishes mentors who inspired and motivated her to persevere through the hardships that life threw at her. Daniela’s piece of advice for current SHC students is to keep pushing forward. “When you think you can’t, you can. When someone says ‘no’, turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. Push yourself to a level that you think is beyond reach, and you’ll get there. How are you going to change the world and help others around you? Keep pushing as hard as you can!”

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