Taking bold steps: Meet PNW 2023 graduate Alondra Diaz

November 27, 2023
Alondra Diaz

Alondra Diaz, ‘23, likes to remind herself of advice received from her mother: if you see something in your world you don’t like, then take the initiative to go change it and make a difference.

As a first-generation student from Hammond, Indiana, and the oldest of five siblings, Diaz says her undergraduate career is marked by times she had to be courageous and step outside of her comfort zone. Doing just that has led her to find opportunities to be involved on campus and in her community as a Criminal Justice major. She has worked as a part-time security officer in the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center and is completing an internship at law firm Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP. On campus, she has served in Unidos Club and as a student worker in the office of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives.

After graduation, Diaz plans to pursue a master’s degree and then enter public service and government. Her dream occupation is to serve as an elected official in state or federal government.

How did you become interested in your major?

“Initially I thought about going into policing, then thought about Computer Science or Cybersecurity. But ultimately I’m more of a social person. I wanted to go on a route of helping people. I want to address problems in society. Since I’m the oldest, I’ve been protective of my younger siblings, and that translates into my personality to be protective of my friends, family and neighborhood. That’s what inspired me to go into Criminal Justice.”

Were you involved in student organizations or other activities on campus?

“Most of my time was spent in Unidos Club. We collaborated a lot with other Hispanic-identifying clubs and organizations, like Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Spanish Club. We have a good community with passionate people, especially for Hispanic Heritage Month. Not everybody gets to experience a celebration like that at home, even if they’re Latino, so having that community come together was enjoyable.

In the office of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives, we helped create and plan Hispanic Heritage Month events, promote Latino culture, host a Latino affinity graduation ceremony, help international students and help translate materials.”

Did you have a pivotal experience during your time as a student?

“I served as a part-time security officer in the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center. I wanted to be able to have that field experience and understand firsthand what the people there go through. A center like that is intended for rehabilitation rather than punishment. Since I want to pursue a career in legislating, I want to make safer and more fair environments for people.

I was responsible for helping oversee the entire building, monitored behavior, and chaperoned kids to see their parents. A lot of them have really tough lives. They have been through a lot in their home environments or in their interactions with peers.”

What did you like the most about PNW?

“I would say meeting all the people here, from the students to the faculty and staff. Putting myself out there and talking to people has opened doors for me. My former academic advisor and I still talk all the time. I wouldn’t have met half the people I know if it wasn’t for Unidos Club. I wouldn’t have met Iris Sanchez had it not been for Catalina Rodriguez.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students?

“Keep an open mind and don’t shut yourself in. I was always the independent one growing up because I was the first for everything. It was really tough for me to ask for help. But if I never allowed myself to do that, then I wouldn’t be in the position I am now. So, keep an open mind, say ‘yes’ to possibilities, opportunities, people, and put yourself out there.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Iris Sanchez

Iris Sanchez

Director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives

“Working with her has taught me a lot about organization, event-planning, time management, verbal communication, and more. She has also helped me work on myself and my skills.”

Catalina Rodriguez

former assistant vice chancellor for Educational Opportunity Programs and director of TRIO Student Support Services

“She introduced me to so many new people and opened doors for me. She helped me develop confidence, not just as a Latina, but as a woman. She helped me see a different picture of myself to help me put myself out there, talk to people and make myself known.”

Azrael Jimenez sits in a baja car

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