America Is My Home Now

State Committeewoman at Charlotte County Democratic Party and Precinct Captain #38 at Charlotte County Democratic Party – Dr. Lucy Huyke Garner

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a Charlotte County Dems Profile series, Influencers, by Linda Conklin, a Charlotte County Dems writer.

Dr. Lucy Huyke Garner demonstrates her influence by listening. When talking with her, there is no one else in the room. It could be attributed to her advanced education in social work, or perhaps because of her innate ability to communicate effectively.

From an early age, she wanted to succeed and evolve. “I was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, South America, and learned French and English from French nuns while attending a Catholic elementary school.” Lucy pursued a wide variety of extracurricular activities—seemingly desperate to evolve. She recalls, “It was my participation on a local swim team that revealed a competitive streak that would motivate me in any future goals.” That may have revealed itself when she became high school Valedictorian.

For most Colombians, the family is the basic element of community and social order. In Colombian culture, families can be conservative and protective of their children, no matter how old they are. Even middle-class families in Colombia often had one or two maids (more on that later). Growing up, her father often spoke of how wonderful America was. He had attended elementary school in the U.S. and made a point to make a return visit every year.

Lucy says, “Learning English as a child, I read a book about Abraham Lincoln. I really admired him, partly because he came from such a poor background and achieved great success. I was also influenced by President Kennedy through his Alliance for Progress program in Latin America.”

Lucy’s father was very strict and insisted that she attend college in Colombia. She did graduate in 1967 with a degree in social work. A cultural exchange program offered through the State of Florida awarded her a scholarship to attend Florida State University (FSU). Her introduction to American college life was a culture shock. Making her bed? Washing dishes? Doing her own laundry? Cooking? According to Lucy, “I’d never done any of these household chores, but my roommates provided the guidance I needed to adapt to this new lifestyle.” She also worked at a variety of part-time jobs to supplement her $70 monthly stipend.

Lucy said, “I was able to earn my Masters in Social Work. I then applied for another student visa to be able to complete my Ph.D. in Family Planning and Population. With a grant from the Ford Foundation, Lucy spent several months working at a women’s clinic in Colombia. “It was an eye-opening experience”, she said. “I saw so many women, predominately Catholic and lacking basic education, coming into the clinic because they did not want more children.”

Her dissertation on family planning was based on her hypothesis of giving women the tools and methods they needed for family planning. When Lucy defended her dissertation (while pregnant), she knew that she wanted to empower women.

Lucy met her future husband, Tom Garner, at FSU. Together, they have been continually active in the Charlotte County Democrats (CC Dems). Since 2016, Lucy has served as State Committeewoman. She participated in two Democratic National Conventions (DNC). As an alternate delegate from Charlotte County, she said, “It was such a thrill to attend the DNC in Boston in 2004.” Prior to that, she has served as Treasurer and Precinct Captain.

In 2016, Lucy attended the DNC as a delegate in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Lucy said, “I have many happy memories of the DNC in Philadelphia. Representing the CC Dems is an honor.” She also said that “It is so sad not to be able to attend the 2020 convention. I will miss the excitement and interacting with other people.”

According to Lucy, “The CC Dems have done an outstanding job preparing for the 2020 election. I’m confident that their hard work will pay off on November 3. Please be part of the solution—VOTE!”