Angel “Gelica” Forde

"I believe if you feel that you're connected to your environment, you feel a sense of purpose, a sense of worth." Angel "Gelica" Forde, Doctoral Student, College of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesAngel “Gelica” Forde describes herself as “just normal, not anyone great or special” but as someone who “strives to make people happy.” Gelica is a doctoral student in the sustainable tourism and protected area management program in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She pursued her undergraduate degree in the midwest but moved to Florida for her Master’s degree. She feels as though the program’s shifts reinforce her being here at the right time. Gelica’s program was formerly known as agriculture, recreation, and resources, but now is more interdisciplinary. It doesn’t focus on just natural resource management or parks and recreation but combines the two and adds a community component.

Gelica says “ I believe that my purpose here is to serve my fellow beings, to be an inspiration, and I try my best at all times to always try to help someone, try to encourage someone, let them feel a sense of purpose. That's just me, that's my goal or my aim, my life pursuit; which ties into my whole area study- natural resources. If you're outside in nature you'll feel that connection with not only God but with your environment and it gives you a sense of belonging. I believe if you feel that you're connected to your environment, you feel a sense of purpose, a sense of worth. If you connect with your environment, you connect with the persons within your environment, and you could get an even more holistic sense of belonging.” Additionally, outdoor activities help remove barriers between individuals and others; encouraging people, bringing them together, inspiring connections.

At MSU, Gelica is already active in building and engaging with ideas of community and connection. She is in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Club where she enjoys laughing with friends and mentoring undergraduates. She has been a Teaching Fellow for the Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program where she facilitated classes and employed Project Based Learning. Gelica is a Graduate Assistant in Spartan Village, serving as the Assistant Community Director and often working as a mediator to help tenants solve problems. Additionally, she is pursuing the Graduate Certification in Community Engagement as well as the Certification in Special Ecology.

When asked about her goals, Gelica shared three simple but lofty ideas: helping to pave the way for future generations, building individual’s sense of belonging, and giving to others to contribute to their happiness. In her personal life, Gelica is already doing these three things. She is raising her nephew (age four) and niece (age 19), saying “I play a parenting role but I’m not a mom. I don’t have any biological children, but my life rotates around my nieces and nephews- all of them.” She has 20 in all, plus three God Children, who live all over the world from Florida, Boston to England!

Gelica says she doesn't strive for riches, but for comfort knowing she can sustain her lifestyle but having enough to help a friend, family member or even a stranger. She believes in a life of service and one that is directed by the will of God. She believes in living life to the fullest and being true to yourself and others.

Originally written and photographed by Makena Neal, 2019