Campus Aerial
Student Voices

From Springfield to UMass ... And Around the World

Black and white photo of a UMass student

Traditionally, people expect college to be a faraway journey to expand one’s horizons. In reality, the right opportunity is often right around the corner. This is what Springfield resident Ruth Estien-Garcia found at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

 Although Ruth was born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, in her teen years. It was there that she discovered one of her passions — architecture. In the New England area, top-tier architecture universities are few and far between, and Ruth found, “with UMass Amherst, it’s this or an Ivy League, and the financial aid is way better than an Ivy League.” Given those realities, UMass’s prestigious architecture program was a no-brainer, allowing Ruth to get an unparalleled education at an affordable price. This did mean that she would be in Western Massachusetts for the next four years, but she was happy to stay, as she felt being so close to home “is like a little cheat code to me.”

Once Ruth came to UMass, forming a community was not too difficult. This was mainly because of the tight-knit Hispanic community that awaited her. She was thrilled to find “Hispanics here hold onto each other—there was a group chat of all the [freshman] Hispanics on campus.” Additionally, she was thrilled by the diversity and acceptance she found at every corner of UMass, remarking, “UMass is more international, you can see a little bit of everything over here … it’s definitely more interesting.” She was also impressed by the dedication both professors and peers at UMass had to mental health.

Ruth’s primary extracurricular activity on campus is her Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps membership, which has rewarded her handsomely in both professional benefits and unforgettable experiences. Even in high school, Ruth “knew I wanted to do something in the military and if you go through ROTC you can enter with a rank.” In addition to this incredible promotion, Ruth received a flight scholarship to hone her flying skills on her own time. Her journey with the AFROTC also took her across the world to the nations of Jordan and Georgia for training over the summer. So even though her university is only 20 miles from home, Ruth has been able to see the world through UMass Amherst.