Dr. Garriga-López comes from an academic family in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her mother was a professor of Psychology, and her father is a professor of Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico. Garriga-López knew that she wanted to pursue a career in academics.
“A love of learning, theory, and philosophy was passed down” to her from her family, she says. “The academy is one of the only places left where one can do the kind of radical work that I wanted to devote my life to.”
At sixteen she took a big step towards this goal, leaving Puerto Rico to attend Rutgers University. There were many aspects that made this transition difficult, but one of the hardest was the difference between how she viewed being Puerto Rican, as an islander, and how the people around her viewed the Puerto Rican identity, being mostly from the urban, New Jersey context. Feeling that she did not fully fit in with the Latino community, or with the bisexual, gay, and lesbian communities she was a part of, Dr. Garriga-López decided to make her own organization, The LGBTQQIA People of Color Organization at Rutgers (LLEGO!), which brought the two communities together. Dr. Garriga-López continues to be active in these circles on our own campus through her research, the classes she teaches, and her work at the Arcus Center. Dr. Garriga-López uses artistic outlets, YouTube videos of goats, and activities like Judo to support a lively demeanor, while working on the difficult issues she is passionate about, such as AIDS, addiction, colonialism, and poverty.
Art plays a large role in her life.
“Art is what feeds me the most,” she tells me. One of the aspects she misses most about Puerto Rico, outside of her family, is the art scene.
“Puerto Rico is very vibrant in terms of there being music everywhere, murals everywhere…and I have a lot of friends that are in that [art] scene.” Here in Kalamazoo, Dr. Garriga-López sings in the Bach Festival Community Chorus, works on poetry, and has even audited a few art classes at K, occasionally passing as a student.