A parent’s love, a lasting legacy

Through her daughter, Cristina García P’14 saw firsthand the power of a Brown education. Through her planned gift, she hopes to give other Latinx families the same experience.

Campus tours can be one of the more memorable parts of the college search — for both students and their parents. For Cristina García and her daughter, Pilar Garcia-Brown ’14, no tour was more memorable than College Hill.

“It was astonishing,” says García. “She knew the instant she set foot on campus that this was the place for her.”

Brown felt the same way. A few months later, Pilar received her acceptance letter and, that fall, returned to College Hill to embark on her academic journey at Brown. Throughout her daughter’s time at Brown, García witnessed the limitless possibilities and intellectual rigor of a Brown education.

“Her four years there were absolutely life-altering,” she recalls. “I saw her mature and grow into her adult self. She’s turning 29 in the fall and is just a wonderful person.”

A very different college experience

Pilar’s college experience was everything a mother could hope for their child. For García, whose own experience was vastly different, it was all the more meaningful. 

Born in Cuba, García and her parents were among the first wave of people to flee the country following Fidel Castro’s ascent to power. She worked hard throughout her school years and got into Barnard College. Unlike her daughter, García didn’t get to experience the full wonder of college life. “I was living at home and commuting to college. I was working in my parents’ restaurant more than I was at Barnard,” she says.

García then went on to John Hopkins University for her master’s degree and, from there, made a name for herself in journalism. In 1983, she started at Time Magazine as a reporter. Two years later, she became the magazine’s San Francisco correspondent. By 1987, she was its bureau chief in Miami for Florida and the Caribbean region.

Working for Time Magazine would be a dream job for most aspiring journalists...but not for García. In 1990, she left the magazine to pursue her true passion: writing fiction. Since then, she’s published seven novels, including her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, which became a National Book Award finalist.

Pilar inherited her mother’s love for literature: she currently works for a publisher in New York editing fiction and non-fiction books. 

“I know that Brown was absolutely instrumental in setting her up to think critically and be the superb editor that she is,” García says.

Meeting Brown’s champion for Latinx students

For many Latinx students like Pilar, the dream of a Brown education was made possible by the tireless work of one woman: Mercedes Domenech. As part of Brown’s Office of Admission, Domenech spent decades improving Latinx representation in Brown’s student body. During her daughter’s time at Brown, García became close with Domenech, often meeting with her once a semester to talk for hours about books, music, and everything in between. 

“Not only did she invite this incredible diversity of talent — cultural, scientific, and academic — but she also nurtured that talent going through. She sustained them, heart and soul, as they acclimated to life at Brown,” García says.

I continue to have a long-term perspective on what a Brown education can mean for those lucky enough to get one. For my daughter, it’s not something that ended when she graduated in 2014: its value is ongoing and everlasting.

Cristina García P’14
black and white photograph of Cristina García P’14

'I knew I had to give back in some way'

When it came time for García to consider her estate plans, she knew Brown had to be part of it. 

“I continue to have a long-term perspective on what a Brown education can mean for those lucky enough to get one. For my daughter, it’s not something that ended when she graduated in 2014: its value is ongoing and everlasting. I knew I had to give back in some way.”

Fittingly, García chose to designate her planned gift to the Mercedes Domenech Brown University Latino Alumni Council (BULAC) Endowed Scholarship—named in honor of Domenech’s work and dedication. The scholarship carries on her legacy, providing financial support for Latinx students at Brown. “I couldn’t think of a more fitting conjunction of beauties,” she says.

“My gift to Brown is not just for my daughter or even her daughter, but for every daughter, son, and child. Because you pass it on. You pass that baton again and again. In that way, I think we all can make the world a little better.”


Author photo courtesy of Norma I. Quintana.

Leave a legacy.

Want to learn more about making a planned gift to Brown? Visit the Office of Philanthropic Strategies and Planned Giving's website or contact us at +1 (401) 863-9119 or planned_giving@brown.edu.

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