Alumni Spotlight: Prisma Garcia '10 is Focusing on Social Impact

Author: Gene Stowe

Prisma Garcia (ESTEEM '10)Prisma Garcia (ESTEEM '10)

Prisma Y. Garcia was a senior science-business major at the University of Notre Dame in 2009 when she heard about a brand-new ESTEEM program starting up that coming fall. Garcia had applied to some master’s programs in global health and public health, but she wanted to add some more business background to her science expertise so she chose ESTEEM.

“It was a good fit,” she says. Her capstone involved Biological Sciences Professor David Severson’s work on the genome of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue fever, with application to elevating health in developing countries.

That first cohort, mostly Notre Dame graduates working on Notre Dame faculty intellectual property, experience the freedom of a not-completely-structured program, the high-tech amenities of brand-new Innovation Park, and a visit to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“There was a lot of freedom in terms of our thesis,” Garcia recalls. “It gives you a lot of freedom to do things and be entrepreneurial. It was a close-knit group. We all kind of were in it together. My strong suit was not statistics. We would be up late working together. It was very collaborative. It was like, we’re all going to do well!  That was the first year Innovation Park was open. It was very modern technology from what we had been used to on campus.”

Garcia first worked as a consultant with large nonprofits, then with a grassroot nonprofit focused on community health. Almost four years ago, she joined Social Venture Partners Dallas, an organization focused on social impact and entrepreneurship with a broad focus including health. The ESTEEM education prepared her for such work.

“A lot of stuff I learned at ESTEEM comes into play with a social lens,” she says. “I create a lot of projects. It’s very focused on solving the social issues we have in the city. I deal with partners, philanthropists who give time and money and pro bono consulting. We use a lot of the terms I learned in ESTEEM. These are essentially investors. Some of these nonprofits have a social enterprise component. It’s very much a blend of the nonprofit world and entrepreneurship.

“I see a connection. I encounter times where the program really helped build my vocabulary or my business skills set to work within this space. There are so many business things you need to know, and you’re strapped for resources, so in a lot of ways it’s like a startup.”