Whitehall HS grad Deborah Diaz aims to inspire first-generation students to pursue college

Deborah Diaz understands the challenges of being a first-generation college student firsthand. As the child of immigrant parents and the first in her family to pursue higher education, she faced a steep learning curve when she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now, as a successful young professional, she’s dedicated to helping others follow in her footsteps.

From Whitehall to Madison: Diaz graduated from Whitehall High School in 2013. Despite her academic success, the college application process overwhelmed her. She lacked the guidance many of her peers took for granted. “I didn’t know how to navigate FAFSA, scholarships, or even what to expect freshman year,” she recalls. Her determination propelled her forward, and she thrived at UW-Madison, earning degrees in finance and political science.

Giving Back: After graduating, Diaz landed a prestigious job at a global consulting firm. But she never forgot the struggles she faced as a first-gen student. She began volunteering with college access programs, sharing her story and offering guidance to high schoolers facing the same challenges she once did. “I want them to know they’re not alone,” she emphasizes. “College is attainable, and their backgrounds are strengths, not weaknesses.”

Mentorship Matters: Diaz stresses the importance of mentorship for first-gen students. “Having someone who understands what you’re going through makes all the difference,” she says. She’s personally mentored several students, providing support from college applications through graduation. Her mentees have gone on to top universities, and she beams with pride at their success.

Expanding Her Impact: Diaz is taking her mission to the next level by starting a non-profit focused on first-gen college support. The organization will offer workshops, mentorship, and scholarships to empower students to pursue higher education. She hopes to create a community where first-gen students can uplift and inspire each other.

A Message of Empowerment: Through her work, Diaz aims to shatter the perception that college is only for the privileged. “Education is the great equalizer,” she asserts. “No matter your background, you deserve access to opportunities. Don’t let anyone dim your potential.” Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the impact one person can have in changing lives.

As Diaz continues her work, she’ll undoubtedly inspire a new generation of first-gen students to chase their dreams. Her journey from Whitehall High to Madison and beyond serves as a powerful reminder that with determination and the right support, anything is possible.

Choose your Reaction!