A student from Puerto Rico, Luis Gonzalez Diaz (’20 political science, sociology) wanted a new perspective in college.
“I always had in mind that I wanted to get out of my island and explore something different,” Luis said.
Luis explored new ideas immediately at ISU, switching majors from biochemistry to political science and sociology and adding a minor in women’s and gender studies.
“Iowa State created the path for me to discover myself,” Luis said. “The road hasn’t been easy because you’re so far away from your home. After you’ve been here awhile and reach out to all the new possibilities, you go to a state of constant transition and you’re always learning. I’m still learning new things about myself and what hidden passions I might have.”
The BOLD (Bridging Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity) Learning Community helped ease Luis’ culture shock of moving from Puerto Rico to Iowa.
“The first person that made an impact on me was the head of the learning community,” Luis said. “Because of her, I was able to find myself at ISU. She inspired me to do research and make connections on campus.”
Luis became a peer mentor and student success leader, who now helps guide first-year multicultural students.
“It makes me reflect on my own journey and inspires me to be a role model or better person.”
Embrace new ideas in research
Luis traveled to New Orleans for NCORE (National Conference on Race and Ethnicity) and also presented research on race and criminal justice at ISCORE (Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity). As a McNair scholar, Luis is engaged in two research projects and can often be found at Parks Library doing yet even more research on lost histories of minorities at ISU.
“My focus is on LGBT people,” Luis said. “I want to create something where people can find main events that happened and how ISU students and their activism have implemented change within Iowa State.”
See the world
After Hurricane Maria affected Luis’ family in Puerto Rico, Luis wasn’t sure if study abroad would still be possible. LAS helped fill the gap with a Dean’s High Impact Study Abroad Scholarship, and Luis spent three weeks in Paris with the Cathedrals in France program.
“Medieval France is something I always wanted to know. I practiced my French skills abroad, and I made new friends who also enjoyed the same passions.”
Lead with authenticity
Along with new ideas and new cultures, Luis discovered new identities at Iowa State. Gender and sexuality are not openly discussed in Puerto Rico, Luis said. The Center at ISU’s Thrive program gave Luis a safe place to learn about leading with all your identities and a path to self-reflection.
The next stop on Luis’ path is graduate school, with a future goal to make a difference in education.
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Luis said. “I started in a completely different major, but I was able to bounce back and now I’m on the right path that’s for me. College is a place for you to discover what you really want to do in life. Follow your passion no matter what that is.”
Luis’s adventure also included: