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First Generation Student Spotlight: Diana Díaz

Senior social work major looks forward to a career serving the human side of the criminal justice system

“I am very content and grateful for this opportunity to pursue higher education,” said CMU first-generation college student Diana Díaz. “This will definitely pave a path for my future kids and their future kids. Looking back, they’ll say someday that someone decided to do something different. I am proud to be that person in my family.”  

Díaz's mother has been her biggest inspiration on her college to career journey and her teacher at Olathe High School, Mrs. Keller, was the biggest help in navigating the college application and scholarship process. Diaz's mother always dreamed of becoming a nurse and Díaz shares the desire to help others, but in a different way. She is a senior in CMU’s Bachelor of Social Work Program. 

“My favorite part of my studies in social work is that it is a cohort, so for the past two years I have been in classes with the same 22 students, and we’ve built strong connections,” Díaz said. She also found her Mavily participating in student life clubs and organizations like Social Work Club, Latino Student Alliance and Phi Alpha Honor Society. 

“I have always been a helper and there are so many career avenues for a social work major,” Díaz said. 

Growing up, Diaz looked up to a family friend that served as a sheriff, and thought she was headed for a criminal justice degree and a career in law enforcement. She later realized that she was more interested in a different aspect of the justice system, where she can focus her skills and talents on rehabilitating offenders rather than finding and apprehending them. She now looks forward to a career in forensic social work, aiding individual offenders in their rehabilitation while also advocating for nation-wide reforms in the criminal justice and prison systems.  

“Being a first-generation college student is a big steppingstone into my future. I get to learn and build great connections that serve me now and can also serve me in the future,” Diaz said. 


Written by Hannah Odneal