Escrito por: Dulce Ortiz 🇬🇹
Image courtesy of Gloria Aparicio Blackwell.
The University of Maryland is blessed to have an inspirational leader like Gloria Aparicio Blackwell. Gloria is the founder and current Director of the Office of Community Engagement at UMD. She is also the most recent recipient of the President’s Medal, a prestigious recognition for those with extraordinary contributions to the university.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and running marathons, which she’s completed three so far. Cuando participa en estas carreras, le encanta recordar que es importante buscar la solución, sin depender del problema. Y si parece difícil encontrar esa solución, la presencia de un sistema de soporte que te ayuda a descubrirlo es igual de importante.
“I always said that that's exactly what life is all about. It’s thinking about what kind of solutions we're going to bring to the issues that were confronted with at the moment,” says Aparicio Blackwell. Usa este consejo en su lógica diario.
Aparicio Blackwell was born and raised in a community-oriented society in Venezuela, where she was first known as Georgita in her small town. After transitioning to college, that identity evolved into Gloriana, a more grown and mature version of her past self. She graduated from a Venezuelan institution with a technical degree in safety and fire science, leading her to migrate to the United States at 21 to further her education.
From learning the English language to understanding the different dynamics present in society, transitioning to the American lifestyle was challenging for Aparicio Blackwell, especially when noticing the receding presence of her original identity.
Aparicio Blackwell says that her identity changed again when she came to the U.S. Not only did her name officially change from Gloriana to Gloria but she also left behind her family and culture.
Primero llegó a Denver, Colorado, donde encontró dificultad en adaptarse a la sociedad local. Luego vino a Baltimore, Maryland, donde logró encontrar su círculo cercano y sacó un bachillerato en seguridad y ciencias de fuego en UMD.
Mientras estudiaba, trabajaba en Mantenimiento de Comodidades para la universidad. Ahí, conoció una variedad de trabajadores increíbles en el que descubrió una perspectiva única, inspirándola con los siguientes pasos para su carrera.
When looking at the work ethic of her peers and learning more about their communities, she admired how each person would work to the best of their ability, despite the countless difficulties they faced in doing so. Seeing this, she sought to create and work in a community-based environment to find a way in which she could make connections to bring resources to people for their own empowerment.
Gloria went on to pursue and complete a Graduate program at UMD. Though she was interested in pursuing a career with a multinational organization, Gloria’s work grasped the attention of highly-ranked staff at UMD.
Compartió con sus empleadores que quería estar en una posición que en realidad la soportaba con los gustos, éxitos, y capacidades que tenía. Inspirado por sus motivos, le ofrecieron un trabajo en el 2001 para hacer esos cambios en la universidad.
Aparicio Blackwell has achieved many great things since then, including creating the Office of Community Engagement in 2012, which connects the university to the local community through acts of service, support, and community. She found this development to be an opportunity to help the people she was influenced by and a proper foundation that can continue to grow long after she’s gone.
Aparicio Blackwell agradece a ellos que siempre intentan a hacer el trabajo bien. She is also proud to see the ethnic development of the university, including the founding of the Latino Employee Association (LEA). As she puts it best, “the institution isn’t perfect, and we’ll never get to that level of perfection, but we’re going to try and make it more robust. Our voice is being heard by different people.”
Aparicio Blackwell shares that in being where she is today, she simply is defining what it means to be human. “Life is full of labels, whether depicting your achievements, your identity, or even your name”, she says. She doesn’t want to be known for those things, but rather, as a human being that happens to be Gloria; a person that was kind, funny, or even great to be around.
Through her work and morals, Aparicio Blackwell’s work can continue to be an inspiration for all.