Breaking the Color Barrier
Gabriella Larios ’17 enjoys putting the pieces together — literally. This aspiring lawyer discovered jigsaw puzzles for stress relief while studying for the LSAT and now regularly assembles 500-piece puzzles when she’s not leading student government or leadership training. A women’s studies and political science double major from an all-girls Catholic school in Miami, Gabriella can’t be confined to typical boxes and is proud to challenge the status quo, putting feminist theory into practice to change sociopolitical systems.
“If we don’t like something, we can do something about it.”
Gabriella helped elect the first Latina student body president of UF, serving as Chief of Staff on the first minority ticket in a formerly white- and Greek-led student government. It was not an accident; when studying under Professor Anita Anantharam, Gabriella became acquainted with transnational feminism, which emphasizes the perspectives of women of color and encourages them to seek leadership positions. In her first year, she had an internship with Women’s Fund Miami-Dade, helping coordinate grants to develop gender-specific organizations.
Although she taught herself about feminism in her teenage years, Gabriella credits her rise in academic feminism to one of her first courses, a humanities perspective on gender and sexuality taught by Professor Carolyn Kelley. “That’s where I first learned critical thinking, close readings, and how much sexism and all these norms of sexuality are perpetuated in the media,” she says.
Up next for Gabriella is law school, where she’ll prepare to go into public interest law to address the needs of the LGBTQ community, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. A summer 2016 internship with the DC-based Victory Fund, which aims to get LGBTQ people into office, affirmed her career choice. “We need more social justice-oriented lawyers in the field,” she says. So, which schools might benefit from someone with multiple internships and leadership positions under her belt? Gabriella hopes for Georgetown, Columbia, or NYU. Wherever she lands, she won’t forget about UF. “We must be mindful of the people who come after us,” she says of her groundbreaking role in UF student government. “If we don’t like something, we can do something about it.”
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