Education Policy Analysis
B.A., January 2011, Magna cum Laude
Home College: Baruch
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Stan Altman, Public Affairs, Baruch
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
CUNY Baccalaureate Memorial Scholarship
As a young girl growing up in Ecuador, Diana Diaz was intrinsically motivated, but adds that she came from “a very strict environment that taught me to persevere, to work hard and to give the best in everything I do.” Lacking the funds for higher education, she came to America after high school. She started out living with different host families and attended school to learn English.
“When I came here, I thought that learning to be proficient in English was going to be my greatest obstacle forever, but I feel that learning this language has kept me grounded, reminding me where I come from, how far I have gotten and how far I can go if I commit to my goals.” With her English improving, she earned her first college credits at the University of Connecticut and Nyack College, enrolling later for full-time study at Borough of Manhattan Community College while also working full-time. About coming to CUNY, Diaz said “I appreciate the fact that I am able to study at an institution that provides me an affordable and high quality education.”
She was recommended to CUNY BA by Prof. Gail Mansouri, Social Science, BMCC, who wrote, “Ms. Diaz has demonstrated a high level of maturity, dedication to educational development and intellectual ability. The quality of her work is on an advanced level and she exhibits a tremendous desire to acquire more knowledge.”
Diaz entered CUNY BA in 2009 after changing her career goal from being a teacher to starting a career in public policy and advocacy. She’d been motivated to make the change as a result of her experience working for a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Latino children and families. “I advised, counseled and provided information to parents about the different early childhood programs for their children. On a daily basis, I heard complaints and frustrations from parents who could not find available slots for early childhood and afterschool programs. It reminded me of my own educational barriers. I decided to change my degree to public policy to be able to gain some knowledge and skills to advocate for quality and affordable early childhood education. When I heard of CUNY BA I was able to connect my academic puzzle of putting together and pursuing this new passion.”
She found other opportunities at school through participating in the CUNY Leadership Academy and through membership in the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at Baruch, which led her to certification in Nonprofit Management.
She was enthusiastically recommended for the Thomas Smith Fellowship by Prof. Carol Garza, Sociology/Anthropology, Baruch, who wrote, “From the very beginning, she was a very serious and committed student, and demonstrated a keen desire to understand the many topics and concepts discussed in the readings and in class….she spoke intelligently about the issues and asked thought-provoking questions.”
Diaz took her area courses in political science, public affairs and sociology at Baruch and Hunter. She included an internship at the Day Care Council of New York, where she now works full-time. She has been accepted to Teachers College/Columbia University’s Interdisciplinary Studies in Education Master’s, which she began upon graduating in January. “I couldn’t have done this without CUNY BA!” she says.