Photo by Brian Waldbillig ’18

Naiara Garcia came to Winona State University from Niteroi, Brazil, expecting to receive a top-notch education, but what she didn’t expect to find was a new place to call home five thousand miles away from home.

While she initially struggled with being so far away from family and friends, Garcia said she easily found support and encouragement among her faculty and peers.

“I have found the atmosphere on campus to be inclusive, as I have had the opportunity to be a part of many different clubs as well as elected to the WSU Student Senate, which helped me find not only friends but also a family,” said Garcia.

During her time at WSU, Garcia also had the opportunity to participate in scientific research alongside Dr. Scott Segal, Professor of Biology, as well as participate in the Experimental Biology San Diego 2016 International Conference.

She received an honorable mention during the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology undergraduate poster competition, and won an award for best poster competing with graduate and post-doctorate students. The research performed by Garcia and Dr. Segal looked at the control of gene expression, focusing on oxidative stress caused by the chemical reagent Chromium(VI) and how this affects mRNA degradation and its control pathways in yeast cells. A manuscript is currently being written for publication.

“The relationships I have had with my professors here have been very important to me. I’ve had support from them inside and outside the classroom,” Garcia said. “They have made me feel comfortable in seeking out their advice.”

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Garcia graduates from WSU with a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. After graduation, she plans on continuing her research and getting her Ph.D. in either Molecular Biology or Genetics.

“My advice is to never give up and always look forward. At times, life will punch you hard, but it will all be well in the end as long as you keep going.”

WSU Fall Commencement Ceremonies will take place Friday, Dec. 8, in McCown Gymnasium on the Winona campus. The 10 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Science and Engineering. The 2 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

For more information, visit or call University Communications at 507-457-5024.